Saturday, 3 September 2016

The Plum Production Line


The other day we set up the plum production line, washing, stoning, skinning and then freezing a huge tray of our homegrown plums.


The Plum tree in Chicken World has done us proud this year, last year was a bit sadder and we lost most of the plums to the wild birds, but this year it would seem they have their minds and their feeding habits elsewhere and our crop is just brilliant, and all for us.  I think it helped a lot grease-banding the tree at the beginning of the year to keep codling moths and other bugs from crawling up the trunk, meaning that so much more of the crop is edible and in very good condition.

Anyway even after making two demi johns worth of plum wine a couple of weekends ago, taking plums to Mum for a couple of weeks and Lovely Hubby eating them whenever he passed the tree we still had this lovely lot to harvest and make good use of.


The rinse, cut in half, de-stone, peel from skin and put onto open freezing tray department.


And in no time at all with two of us working we had four trays ready for the freezer.


We still had enough to fill the jam pan almost to the top with what was left and add a litre of water.  It was all brought to the boil and left simmering for half an hour.


And then transferred to the jelly bags to drip through slowly overnight.


The next day it was all measured out, tipped back into the clean jam pan and I added 450 grams of sugar for each 600mls of plum juice.  It was brought slowly up to temperature so the sugar dissolved completely and then boiled rapidly for 15 minutes until it reached jam temperature and setting point.

Then it was poured, hot jam into hot jars and with lids put on it was left to cool, before labelling the next day.  Nine jars of Plum Jelly which now reside in the home preserves larder cupboard, and one in the fridge ... well you do have to sample the wares don't you ;-)


And in the fridge we have two and a bit jars of Plum Cordial, which is even easier to make.

Just add 350g sugar for every half litre of strained plum juice and heat in a pan until the sugar is dissolved, then bottle into warmed, sterile bottles and allow to cool.  It can be kept in a cool dark place for a couple of months.  If you want it to last longer you can continue and use the water bath method, but I doubt it will need to last that long in our house!!

So up to now we have :

2 demi johns of Plum Wine
10 jars of Plum Jelly
Two bottles of Plum Cordial
... and two 1.5 kgs of prepared Plums

Now we have one last picking of plums to do from the tree before leaving the last few for the wildlife and the chickens who are moving back to their original Chicken World later on tonight.  I'm not sure what they will become but it will add nicely to our little stash and keep us on our journey to fruity self sufficiency.

Sue xx


23 comments:

  1. Wow!! They look delicious and have been put to various great uses :)

    Where did you learn all these techniques about preserving safely making jams etc?

    I'd love to learn more about preserving, freezing & how to get the most out of a product. I don't even know what can and can't be froze or if you freeze a cooked meal do you thaw it out or just reheat it etc. I need to do more research on freezing clearly lol.

    We have lots of picked green tomatoes and some have started to go red they taste lovely!!
    I'd like to attempt to make a passatta sauce but dont even know where to start what equipment i need or how to store it safely etc

    Got any tips? Thanks Sue

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    Replies
    1. Mostly through books watching Dvds and checking online. I've been doing it for over seven years now so it is getting easier :-)

      A full meal is best thawed out slowly in the fridge all day or overnight before reheating. Most foods can be frozen and Googling specific items is always a good idea if you are in doubt.

      The River Cottage series of books are just about the best for home food production and storage.

      For a good passata sauce you simply need to pour all your tomatoes into an ovenproof dish and roast them for 30-40 minutes, add some finely chopped onion and garlic if you want some extra flavour, then whizz them up and pour into a sterilised jars (ten minutes in a low oven does this perfectly), hot tomatoes into hot jars. If you intend to use them quite quickly they will keep perfectly well like this but if you want to store long term it is best to water bath them. There are loads of YouTube videos that show this being done.

      My best tip is not to be afraid to try anything, and if in doubt ask or check.

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  2. Well done!! I've never preserved plums in any way except that they were a small part of the ingredients to an orchard fruit chili sauce. Looks like you had a great harvest! -Jenn

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  3. Our plum harvest was huge - 15 plums all full of wiggly things. It was better than last year when we only had 4 plums!
    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh well you're moving in the right direction, next year you just have to get rid of the wiggly things :-)

      We grease-banded all our trees this year and it has really helped. Grease bands are available at all good garden centres and stop coddling moths and similar from climbing up the tree and laying their eggs in the embryonic fruit.

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  4. You did very well on the plum harvest!!!

    God bless.

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  5. WOW! You have done so well.What a great harvest.
    Rosezeeta.

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  6. Brilliant harvest, another step close to self sufficiency.

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  7. I'm jealous! I love plums. Last year we were picking plums by the bucketful. I had so many that I was running out of ideas to use them. This year we had just under 3lbs in total from the tree. Enjoy them this winter : )

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  8. Plum wine! Plum jam! Such an awful reward!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha ... it is ... I don't like Plums!!
      But I will give everything a go because Lovely Hubby does :-)

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  9. If you have (access to) Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess, she has a nice Chinese-style plum sauce in it.
    I make plum and rosemary jelly, but you seem to have quite a lot of plum jelly already!

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  10. Like Jo, we had lots and lots and lots of plums last year. This year, hardly any. I hope the trees aren't going to go biannual on a regular basis.
    I've made plum jam lots of times, but have never thought of making plum jelly - good idea!

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  11. A very good harvest indeed. I was told last week when making blackberry jam, that if you re-use jam jar you shpuld always buy new lids, also for kilner jars if you are canning in a water bath if they have been used before. I sterilize mine, and use bought jam covers before the lids. is there a right and wrong way??? do you buy all new??
    thanks Christine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You only have to use new lids if you are selling your produce to the public or if your old lids are damaged in any way. I re-use lots of mine when the jam is just for our use, any I give away or sell has new lids. The jars are used over and over.

      Canning lids do get damaged more easily as you usually have to prise them off with a knife to get into the jar.

      You don't need to use a paper/wax jam cover as well as a lid, only if you are just sealing your jar with cellophane and not a metal lid.

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    2. Thank you for your reply, Iwas thinking of getting a canning bath but then thought it would be very expensive with new lids as well. mine is for home use and a few relatives.

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  12. Like Hazel, I was about to mention plum sauce. Can be very nice. I actually did it a few times trying to use up a batch up plum jam a few years ago that just never set properly. I ended up making a lot of jam tarts (the one from Smitten Kitchen (https://smittenkitchen.com/2010/04/easy-jam-tart/) can use up an entire jar and I became very popular at any party I had to bring a cake to) and plum sauce dishes that year.

    I'm not sure if I've mentioned this in your comments before but a steam juicer might be a handy thing for you to have. If you know someone who has one perhaps you could borrow one to give it a try. The cooking part is slower than simmering for half-an-hour in a jam pan but on the other hand, you save the dripping through cheesecloth time entirely. I moved recently so I'm just on the lookout for somewhere local to get my hands on a load of apples now - can't wait to get a few bottles of apple juice and jars of apple jelly onto the shelves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We keep things simple and use the plum jelly as a plum sauce for meat etc. Just adding a pinch of salt or mixed spice to a couple of tablespoons of the jelly in a dish and then a splash of hot water turns it into a very usable and tasty instant plum sauce.

      I don't think I want any more gadgets, and I have looked at steam juicers before and thought that are really not something I need, I actually like the slow dripping overnight process and the resultant pulp to use again.

      We still have jars of apple jelly and jars of stewed apples from last year so I think the majority of our crop this year will be cider and a small amount of apple juice. Although with the sheer amount of apples we have and knowing that the trees are going to be massively pruned after they have finished fruiting I may be tempted to do a few jars :-)

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  13. This is wonderful.
    But I always heard that you have to use the hot water bath to safely can fruits and veggies for storage ? ? ?
    Wow to have all that fruit for the cold winter.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

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    Replies
    1. I haven't canned any fruits here, I've made jelly (which is a strained jam). You don't need to put jams through a water bath as the sugar content and the temperatures reached preserves it perfectly

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  14. This may be a stupid question but for the cordial, you say add the sugar to the plum juice. Is the juice the result from the initial 30 min simmer at the beginning of the post? Thanks Sue, Tracy.

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    Replies
    1. Yes you cook the plums, strain them overnight, then add the sugar to the juice in the right quantity for what you are making. Hope that helps 😊

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