We were given this wonderful book when we gave our September born daughter the middle name Plum. This tale tells of a Dad who decides as the plums start to fall to make plum jam. He makes plum jam until he has filled all the jars, vases and a teapot. The plum consumption then begins with jam sandwiches, pancakes, roly polies to glue for tiling the bathroom floor, until it's all used up just as the plum tree is full of ripe fruit again. A beautiful story and one I can relate to. This year is a good year for plums, we have a reliable small cooking plum tree but also discovered a smaller cherry plum sweet to eat tree.
This year's great plums are apparently not good enough for the supermarkets, who continue to buy from abroad http://www.farming.co.uk/articles/view/4902. Fools.
Our plums are good enough for us and this is what I have been doing with them.
After much searching I found the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe I remembered,
Plum jampote, with hot and sour dipping sauce by-product. (I love a by-product)
For every kilo of plums you need 500g of sugar, put these in a saucepan and top up to half full with water. Bring to the boil, simmer for 20 minutes then pour off and sieve most of the syrup into a new pan.
To this syrup add 2 garlic cloves chopped, 1 hot chilli, 100ml of soy sauce, 100ml of rice or cider vinegar. Boil this rapidly for 10 minutes then bottle up.
When the other plum mixture is cool enough to handle pick out the stones - I loved the feel of oozing sticky jam in my fingers. Then boil the mixture occasionally stirring for 5 minutes, pot up for a loose jam and keep in the fridge.
I have also been roasting plums a la Elizabeth David. Running a knife down their natural line and piling them in a pyramid(?) in an earthenware dish, sprinkling generously with sugar and sticking in a split vanilla pod. These have been roasted in the oven until tender but still holding their shape. These are delicious with yoghurt and made a nifty trifle with a dodgy sponge cake the 8 year old had made.
The plum finale is cooking tonight from Elizabeth David, Plums in Brandy or in my case the alternative she recommends, Plums in vodka. The process is tedious, there had been a lot of boiling and reboiling of the fruit with sugar. The result is hopefully a boozy plum compote.
All this talk of Plums is making me hungry to go out and buy some other fine English varieties.
To be continued.....