Yesterday I picked all of the Italian Prune~Plums off our sturdy old tree. They weren't really ripe, but I couldn't wait any longer. The squirrels have been binging on them, and if I didn't pick them last night, there wouldn't be any left for one of my favorite things, Plum~Vanilla Preserves.
So I picked a half trugful of them. To my dismay, there were only about 4 pounds left on the entire tree. I couldn't believe it.
What happened this year?
I remember the year we bought the house. The plums were just starting to ripen. I stuck one in my pocket, and ate it a few minutes later in the car. Sort of an edible good luck token. I kept the pit. I still have it. Those hoarders on TV? They ain't got nuthin' on me.
Together, we must have picked about 40 pounds of gorgeous dark purple plums the very first year. So it is, that I fell in love with the plum tree from Day One, but it looked even more beautiful when my husband strung it with clear twinkle lights. Those lights, which he set on a timer -- to come on at dusk and go off at dawn every single day -- made the tree look magical all year 'round.
Looking down from the deck, I loved seeing the plum blossoms in the springtime, all lit up at night with twinkle lights.
Back to the plums: They weren't quite ripe, so I washed them:
Drained them in the colander:
Then put them in a box, to ripen, hopefully. In his wonderful book "How to Pick a Peach", author Russ Parsons says, to paraphrase, "unripe plums will ripen just fine at room temperature", and I believe him!
In a few days, if all goes as planned, these Italian Prune-Plums will have ripened enough so that I am able to make my Plum~Vanilla Preserves...stay tuned.
And watch out for squirrels with sticky paws.
Well, I couldn't wait for the Italian Prune-Plums to ripen, so on Thursday -- 2 days after picking the Italian Prune~Plums -- I bought 2 pounds of rotund Black Plums at Uwajimaya, for the reasonable price of $1.49 per pound.
I was eager to do some "small batch preserving", or as I should call it, "experimenting". The project I was working on was an old-fashioned Plum Preserve recipe that called for cooking the plums with the pits intact, (rather that pitting and chopping before adding them to the preserving pan.)
But then I remembered I had offered to take a dessert to our friends' dinner party that night....
...so the Black Plums ended up in a Plum Crunch, from Ina Garten's "Back to Basics" cook book. When I am in a bind, and short on time, Ina NEVER lets me down.
You know this story isn't over, right?
It's back to the drawing board for me.
I bought 2 pounds of Hollywood Plums at Pike Place Market yesterday, and they are simmering contentedly in a big pot of water -- pits intact -- as I type this.
I can't believe my luck. I discovered a new plum. Well, new to me, at least. I bought them because, like some of the best things in life, they were both cute and cheap. Not super cheap, but cheap for organic. Like I mentioned in the previous post, I found these darling little Hollywood* plums at Pike Place Market, for $1.49 / lb.
Boy am I kicking myself now.
I only bought 2 pounds when I should have bought 20 pounds.
What started as an experiment resulted, as it often does, in something quite delicious. Instead of pitting and chopping the plums, I cooked them first (with their pits intact) then drained them.
I made jelly with the strained liquid, and jam with the pulp. So I made jam and jelly simultaneously, then I stirred the two together gently before ladling the blend into jars. I think the extra flavor comes from cooking the pits. I have decided to call it "Hollywood Plum Jelly~Jam". Creative, no? Well at least the name says exactly what it is.
I wish you could taste it. It's incredible. Sweet. A tad tart. You know how Jolly Rancher takes green apple to another level in their Green Apple candy? Well if Jolly Rancher made a Plum candy, it would taste like my plum jelly~jam...intense!
*This versatile Japanese plum tree is beautiful in all seasons. It’s loaded with showy pink blossoms early each spring. The leaves of this 12 foot tall ornamental are purple and disease resistant. In August it produces an abundance of large round dark red plum with deep red flesh. They are delicious when eaten fresh and make a beautiful jelly. Self-fertile.