Our lovely plum tree is in full production! This is the biggest bunch of plums we’ve picked from it so far; two five gallon buckets almost full. Everything lined up perfectly this year. One big problem we have in the pacific northwest with growing stone fruits is the bloom time. They bloom when it’s raining! And bees don’t like that, so things don’t get pollinated. I love to see the soft white blooms of this tree, and I knew when I saw them FOR WEEKS that we would have lots of plums. It was a weird streak of sunny in the spring. These are Bj’s favorite edible from our yard, for sure. He went so far as to rig up a “plum catcher 9000” before we had the shed, to catch our precious few. The shed helped us this year, as it gave us a place to stand and pick from. We took turns on it’s roof gathering from the lowest branches, a full 15 feet up. There are still LOTS for the birds.
This picture of our messy yard is from April 15. The tree has already bloomed out and is in full leaf, you can see the trunk coming up behind the shed and a little bit of the canopy. I don’t have many pictures of it because it’s so high up! When I first moved in the backyard was so overgrown towards the fence I didn’t even know I had a plum tree (until my creepy neighbor showed up IN MY DINING ROOM while I was working on the restorations saying, “Did you know you had a plum tree?” and handing me a plum. I called about a fence the next day!).
So yes, we had lots of plums. And I think the reason I never see these small plums in stores is because they go bad quickly. We picked them on Sunday night and when I got to the bottom of the buckets Tuesday already some were spoiled beyond using (it has been very warm, so I’m sure that didn’t help). The other reason may be that they are clingstone plums. Oh bother, a bit of a pain. For part of the recipes I squeezed out the pits before hand and for the other I got them out after (using a food mill like this – but mine is from an estate sale). I am super happy with all of these (from left):
1. Asian Plum Sauce. This recipe is from the Ball Complete Book of Canning (affiliate link). I’ve linked to the hardcover version of this book because I think it is an absolute essential. It has hundreds of recipes, great tips and general guidelines. I write in mine noting the years I’ve tried various recipes, how I tweaked them, and the results. I really chose this recipe because I was at a loss at what to make with all the plums! And I’m so pleased with it. Sweet, but not overly so, and so good on pork. I think this will make a great stir fry sauce as well.
2. Plum Lemonade Concentrate. OH MY GOODNESS! This one is a bit over the top! I needed an easy sanity saver plum recipe and this was one. Hardly hands on. Cook plums for a bit, then hang in cheesecloth overnight to extract the juice, combine with other ingredients in the morning and bring to 190 degrees then can. Done! I use this amazing stockpot from All Clad (wedding present!). I love the steaming baskets. I just line the small one with cheese cloth and put in the fruit; making juice is so simple this way (works for any fruit), and completely covered, so no bugs get in there. The recipe notes to make this 1:1 with water. It is still so intensely sweet. I mixed a pint with a full 2 liter of non flavored seltzer water plus a bunch of ice and it made a very refreshing punch type drink. At home I just make up fizzy water in the soda stream I got Bj a few years ago and then add a dash of this to a glass (plus ice), instead of their syrups. I love it. In fact I think I’m going to make more concentrates in little bottles. I need to do some research on canning in bottles to see if that is possible because I think these would make fun gifts.
3. Plum BBQ sauce. The recipe calls for peaches, but I think plums and peaches can be pretty well interchanged. This is also in the Ball book, but they have some of the recipes on their site as well. Also good. A tangy not spicy sauce that would make a good marinade. I had some pork loin dipped in here and it was great.
4. Plum butter. Oh baby is this stuff rich. I think some of this is going to be presents for holiday time. Mmmm in the winter on warm toast? Yes! And I am sold on this style of cooking preserves! Another time saver. You mix up with fruit, spices, and sugar. Mash it together and let it sit overnight. Then you pop it in the oven and cook it way, way down. Mine never boiled, nor scorched in any way, so it was a simple way to cook without having to be hands on (I was actually baby sitting a friend’s kids at the time so I was really hands off!). Now getting the pits out of this was a bit of a trick as I didn’t squeeze them out before hand. The foodmill helped, but I wanted all the yummy chunky bits of skin in there so I had to hand squeeze them out of the sticky buttery mess. If you click on the link you should know I used an asian plum (I’m not sure what variety I have) not a prune plum.
Here is Tuesday being a goofy model. I told her to have a sip of the drink and a bite of the muffin, but she wouldn’t do it! The drink yes, but the muffin for some reason she just didn’t want any so she did this nice pose 🙂
I wish I had a better picture, but this phone snap from last year is the best I could find (I guess we eat them pretty quick!). I wanted to show them so you could see what type I used.
I would love to know what you do with plums! There are still trees around loaded with fruit, and prune plums (the dark purple kind) are not quite ripe. With those I make a straight up plum jam. If you’d like a general post about canning from me I’d be happy to write one. I do have a few tips and tricks. Happy canning!