If you are so lucky as to have an abundance of plums and don’t know what to do with them all, I say, drown them in booze. We had a few from a tree at my childhood home, and they were getting overripe, suggestive of ginny plums anyway. Might as well push them in.
Plum liqueur is an astonishingly simple way to preserve a glut of fruit from late summer throughout the year. Choose an extremely clean, wide-mouthed mason jar, inexpensive vodka or gin, and sugar. Wash the plums, prick them all over with a fork and fill the jar. Sprinkle over a cupful of sugar; pour the booze over to submerge the plums. Seal the jar. I turn my jars of boozy plums now and then for a week or so. Taste the infusion in a couple of months; add more sugar if needed. I like to leave the fruit infusing for at least three months before we start tippling!
This little recipe featured in last autumn’s newsletter.
Devoted readers may remember that in the early days of spring I prepared gingered honey. Quite inadvertently, I stumbled upon something finer still.
Accidental candied ginger! Ah, the honey infused the ginger just as ardently as the ginger infused the honey, and sugared it over, without syrups, completely raw. Oh, the gorgeous stuff!
Naturally one must introduce honeyed ginger to dark chocolate. My loved ones are now wondering why I didn’t share (blushes) and so I must hurry to make another very large batch. I should think it will be ready for winter, will you try this too? A wide-mouth mason jar should be about right for extracting the ginger, and the honey left is an excellent medicinal. Now, do check back soon, as I have something else gingery and rather exciting to show you.
One fine morning, we rose early (taking a break from that prolonged, distracting state that we call moving house) and headed to the farm with our buckets, hats and snacks.
A summer isn’t right without a few trips to the local farms, strawberrying, raspberrying. I feel rooted and stable when I’m eating food we’ve gathered ourselves, and I see the children are so content.
We are so lucky to know a farm that uses organic practices. (If you’re on the southern part of Vancouver Island, visit Nicholas Farm, they’re wonderful, I’m so grateful to live nearby.) Not a chemical to worry us, and such beautiful rows of heavy fruit.
Be sure to bring your young blueberriers with you. They are nimble and close to the little bushes, and if you ply them with sandwiches they may pick quite a heap.
My small one shouts “Jackpot!” upon finding gigantic berries. Extraordinary things. Six of us picked 120 pounds of gorgeous fruit in a short morning on the farm.
Berries to cook into jam or kiiseli or tarts; to dry, to sink in a jar of gin, to freeze. I could live on the beauties. Soon we’ll plant our own little patch and go blueberrying at the lakeside cottage.
What elation to gather the hazelnuts before the squirrels made off with the entire harvest. We felt a bit smug, having just outsmarted bears who make off with plums, too.
What a pleasure to shuck them, sitting on the back step with the children, like shucking corn both in word and in action. Albeit with enough repetition to cause a couple of blisters.
What a delight to set them in a basket to dry in a warm room, and watch the pale green deepen to that hazelnut brown.
And what a disappointment to find them all empty, not a single nutmeat amongst them. All our plans for hazelnut torte, or honeynuts! Dashed. Back to buying cobnuts at the shops. The hazels were recruited for an autumn display, beautiful but slightly unfortunate, like an ornamental cherry in spring. Do you gather nuts from local trees before the creatures take them all? What do you do with them?
One year as we patiently awaited beautifully tree-ripened plums, a cheeky young bear stole into the tree and ate every last plum. He cracked branches, being neither a small nor a careful bear, and he lounged around in the sunny garden long after the larceny. Every year since, we make sure to beat the bears to the plums. The fruit will finish ripening in a bowl in the window.
Little girls are a good size to slip between the leaves for plum-picking without any branch-cracking or fruit-bruising. They do eat more than their share of plums, mind you.
I’ve always got high hopes for all the things I could make with the plums. Yet in all but the most bumper-croppish years, they get eaten up while they’re fresh.
If you’ve got an abundance of plums in these last days of summer, or wild blackberries (which rarely get through our door without being plunged into whipped cream and devoured) get the quarterly, out this week. It includes a very simple recipe for preserving fruit through winter. Even if life has been too much of a whirl for jams and jellies, you’ll feel industrious and a little bit triumphant over this one – pretty good for ten minutes work.