Monday, January 26, 2009
Plums and Australia Day weekend
I came home on the Friday night before the long weekend with about 10 kilos of blood plums that a colleague had harvested off her tree. This year the harvest seemed particularly good because of the vigilance of her cat who warded off marauding birds by choosing the plum tree as a favourite place to rest. So I'll be interested to see how many more kilos of plums make their way to work this weekend. Thanks Aileen and Doyle!
But, don't misinterprete what I am saying! I wasn't a reluctant receiver of these plums: I had been waiting for them to ripen and seeking updates on their status regularly. Last year at the about the same time I took home a batch and experimented with making a batch of Maggie Beer's plum sauce. I blogged about it here later in the year when I was eating some of it and it was a great favorite with a number of friends. So I was keen to repeat the exercise. I only cooked about three kilos and made one batch last year. This year the kitchen became quite a production line as I washed plums, chopped onions, belted ginger, dashed out to buy extra sugar and vinegar, simmered it all, strained and bottled it. Finally I could stand back with relief and admire my 14 bottles of plum sauce - the product of six kilos of the plums.
I won't repeat the recipe and the method here as I basically used Maggie Beer's recipe. However, I varied it a bit and also varied the ingredients between the two batches. I used red wine vinegar in one batch according to Maggie's recipe, but in the other I used apple cider vinegar as I had a lot of it on hand. I will be interested to see the difference in taste. I was also rather loose in sticking to the recipe in terms of the onion, ginger, peppercorns and cayenne. But then I always am. I also added the strainings (ginger, plum stones, peppercorns etc) from the first batch to the cooking of the second, in addition to all the other ingredients. The strainings are also nice to keep and add to various other dishes, I found last time.
And the rest of this batch of plums? Well, I decided I would stew them. I washed them and cut off various weathered bits, then I simmered them with about a cup of apple and peach juice and half a cup of currants. That will keep me in breakfast fruit for a while.
Now to clean down all the surfaces in the kitchen which seem spattered with plum! I have had a lovely long weekend immersed in plum cooking with the Australian Open tennis playing along in the background and providing a very Melbourne January sound that brings back decades of memories.