Three years ago was the first time our yellow plum tree produced fruit. It had a bumper crop and I was thrilled to pick two 5-gallon buckets full of juicy, sweet plums the color of sunshine.
The dwarf tree is about double the size it was that year, and there were so many plums this year that the branches hung to the ground. I was afraid they'd break and was thankful that they didn't. My dad used to wedge 2x4's under heavy-laden branches on his dwarf peach tree to prop them up and keep them from breaking.
The problem with these yellow plums is that they ripen very quickly and spoil just as fast. We could never eat that many of them before they all went bad. I set aside the nicest, biggest ones in the refrigerator for us to eat - hubby likes them cold - and worked on preserving the rest of them.
|A small portion of this year's crop!|
I picked a grand total of seven 5-gallon buckets of plums from this one dwarf tree. It became a race against time to get them all taken care of before it was too late.
I washed them in a large bowl of cold water in the sink, then used a paring knife to cut them in half all the way to the seed inside. I twisted the two halves until the plum came apart with the seed attached to one half. The seedless half went into a bowl, and the half with the pit attached went into a large pot on the stove.
|Granddaughter helped me pick the plums three years ago.|
I froze a lot of the seedless halves by putting them on cookie sheets in the freezer, then transferring to a freezer container. I'll use these in smoothies.
The rest of the seedless plum halves went in my blender. It's powerful and I didn't need to skin the halves before pureeing. I froze the puree in quart freezer bags until the rush of preserving is over and I can get them canned. It's not the ideal way - freezing and then canning - but it's better than letting them go to waste because I can't keep up.
The halves with pits attached were more work. I cooked those down a bit until they were soft, and then removed the pits. Well, umm, I tried to remove them. First I tried to remove them by hand, which was horribly tedious. The seeds hang on to the pulp for dear life, even when they've been cooked. Next I tried my Victorio strainer, but the seeds are too large and clogged up the auger.
My temporary solution was to put the plum halves with seeds into gallon-size freezer bags and into the freezer until I can figure out a better solution! I've ordered a food mill - it should be delivered today - and hope it will work on plum pits. Evidently plums are similar to peaches and have both "cling" and "freestone" types; if you possibly can, choose a freestone type of plum.
The freezer now holds 12 quarts of plum puree as well as five gallons of plum halves that still need to be cooked and de-seeded. I also started several jars of plum vinegar.
What will I do with all that puree?
- Sweet and sour plum sauce - we absolutely adore this stuff and use a lot of it!
- Plum jam
- I'll add some of the puree to other fruits to make mixed fruit jelly.
- And then maybe some plum butter (like apple butter).
The red plums are ripe now too, so I have plenty of work ahead of me still. I think I'm glad that there aren't as many red plums as there were yellow ones.
What do you do with plums? I need more ideas!
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