I have a funny little plum tree in my garden. It resides in a large faux-terracotta pot and has moved from house-to-house with me for the past 15 years. Bearing the scars of traversing the city in trailers and removalist trucks, it now lives on a permanent lean. The trunk is narrow; the branches spindly. The foliage often turns yellow and drops by the second week of summer - this tree has all the hallmarks of a bit of Hoppo Bumpo
Yet, in spite of its harsh life, the little tree blossoms every year. Its a pretty, fluttery blossom, full of promise. And every year I wait ever so hopefully to see what happens next: fruit, or not?
There was great excitement this year - apparently we were in for a bountiful harvest. In an uncharacteristic move, I spent time in the winter and spring pruning, feeding and mulching. And so it was that we harvested 7 plums.
By crikey, what to do with the bounty?
Thank goodness a dear friend passed on an excellent recipe that calls for quite a lot of plums ( ... oh, and that I stumbled across a 5kg box of beautiful, juicy plums at the market for $2.oo). We feasted at Christmas with the most delicious plum sauce.
Try this super easy and rewarding recipe if you get the chance. And please, don't bother with trying to grow the plums first. That bit is not rewarding at all.
Em's mum's plum sauce
1.4kg (3lb) red plums, whole
2 apples, peeled and chopped
2 onions, chopped
450ml (15 fl.oz) vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
700g (1½lb) sugar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (ooops, I didn't have any so had to omit it)
7g (¼oz) bruised ginger
7g (¼oz) allspice
- Boil all the ingredients together for about 1.5 hours.
- Towards the end of the cooking time, place some freshly washed jars and lids into a deep saucepan of cold water (I used two old St Dalfour jam jars 284g/10oz along with two larger Sacla pasta sauce jars 420g/14.82oz )
- Bring to the boil for 10 minutes to sterilise the jars.
- Carefully remove the jars and lids and place straight onto a baking tray lined with a clean tea towel.
- Place in a preheated oven at 110°C (230°F) for 15 minutes.
- Strain the sauce to remove the plum stones and skin.
- Remove the jars from the oven and pour the sauce straight into the hot jars.
- Put the lids on tightly and turn the jars upside-down for 10 minutes.
- Turn the jars back the right way up and cool.
A vacuum seal should have formed on the lid and the little "button" in the middle should have been sucked down.
- Store in a cool, dark place (if you can bear to wait)