Thursday, July 12, 2012

Regularity: It's no Laughing Matter (or "WTF to do with 15# of plums!" - PRUNES!)

I have no idea why I titled this post thusly.  Probably because I'm brain-dead from dealing with plums!

Thankfully, neither Hubs nor myself have reached the stage in life where prunes are A Necessity!  Although hubs does tend to fixate - just a wee bit too much - about his "Fiber Intake." (I'll spare you the details!).

Anyway, remember the other day?

Here, I'll remind you:

Yes, 15 lbs of plums...

And they've been ripening, rather exuberantly, both in the basket on my kitchen countertop, as well as on (or beneath!) the tree out back.

And when I say "ripening exuberantly" I mean they are fast-approaching a stage that might be more accurately called "rotting!"  Friggin' Fruit Flies everywhere!  Oh and REGULAR flies in the backyard, right?  

We've got a BBQ/Pool Party coming up this weekend and I'd rather NOT have to subject our guests to a swarm of gnarly flies.  So this morning I awoke to ouchy feet (Grrrr), but I was DETERMINED to go out and deal with the "beyond-exuberant" fruit lying under the trees.  This included discarding the branches I'd chopped off of the broken peach-tree (Waaaahhhhh!!!) and the :::snif-snif::: "abundance" of lost fruit.

Now, our lot is appx 1/4 acre.  And appx 1/4 of that is The Garden + Orchard.  And there definitely ARE fruit trees and low-hanging branches and - truth be told - removing the rotting fruit was gonna present a challenge! Sadly, the Tractor Scoot was not the ideal tool for this endeavor (not enough space to maneuver around - at least not without putting an eye out via an errant branch!).  The dog's Pooper-Scooper seemed like a viable option - except it was only good for plucking up, maybe, half a dozen fruits at a time.  At that rate, I'd be working thru Christmas!

I momentarily debated turning the dogs loose back there - they'd make quick work of it!  But then I'd end up  having to clean-up an entirely different mess later (Ewwww!).

I ended up using a combination of a rake, a blue tarp, and a squishable bucket to relocate, scoop, and ultimately discard all of it.  Filled-up my [Friggin' HUGE] Green-Bin, I did!  And I managed to get it all done before the thermometer hit 90*! (Yay!).  

Oh yes, I DO like 90+ temps - as long as I am sitting on my lazy @$$ in the shade of a palapa while nursing a frosty beverage!  NOT when I have to perform manual labor! HA!

Anyway, after work this afternoon, I couldn't help but notice the fruit flies flitting around the sink.  And, well, it's was starting to smell a bit too "fruity" for my liking.  And after sweating like a pig, raking up dead peaches and plums, NATURALLY I wanted to spend my afternoon dealing with MORE plums! (And yes, BTW, the Farm Share delivery *did* include EVEN MORE FRIGGING PLUMS!!!).

Yep.  We got plums!

So what the hell can I do with plums that DOESN'T require pitting?  I Googled "Plum Juice" and learned that my juicer won't play-well with un-pitted plums ("Damn!").  Even those sites that I found for Prune-Making (and no, I didn't make note of any of 'em) mentioned that plums should be pitted before dehydrating.

Screw that - I know I've eaten prunes that DID have pits in 'em.  And I'll be DAMNED if I'm gonna sit here and try to "pit" 15# of plums.  No. Effin'. Way!

So I decided to make prunes - with SPLIT plums - so that means half of 'em will be pit-free!!!

This isn't exactly a recipe.  I'll just describe what I did - in case you're crazy or desperate enough to want to try this.

First off:  Most of the plum-making-instructional sites I reviewed recommended using a preservative.  Most suggested potassium sorbate (which, I believe, is used in wine-making).  I didn't have any, and I didn't feel like driving to a wine/beer-making shop.  I decided to go with Fruit Fresh and Lemon Juice.  No clue if that's the "right" thing to do - but whatevah!  It's what I did!

So I set-up a large bowl with appx 6 oz water, I added appx 2-3 TBS of Fruit Fresh (Dextrose, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid and Silicon Dioxide - Hmmm, doesn't sound very "organic" does it?!), and appx 1/2 cup of bottled lemon juice.

I sliced the plums in half - discarding any that were too "exuberantly ripe" ("squishy!").  If I was able to extricate the pit, I did (some of the "firmer" plums did play-nice!).  Then I dumped the halved fruits into the water/FF/lemon juice and let 'em soak for appx 10 minutes.  Then I placed them, skin-side-down, on my dehydrator shelves.

PSA: If your plum-gooze-slathered hands slip, and you manage to slice yourself with the knife?  Do not - I repeat - DO NOT use that hand to scoop the plums OUT of the lemon-juice/water bowl. ("You're Welcome!")

My Assembly Line
(Not pictured: The big ol' honkin' basket o' plums!)

I did this in several batches.  And I paused for "breaks" in between.  All told, it probably took a little over an hour.   I ended up with this:

Completely-full Nesco SnackMaster dehydrator
(with optional "Add-A-Shelf" kit)

Now I didn't weigh how much I ended up with.  I'm guessing it was around 10-11# worth of fruit (after tossing the squishy ones).  I fired-up the dehydrator at 5:00pm tonight.  No clue how long it's gonna take, but I'll check it tomorrow.

I have NO idea how this is gonna turn out - but I'm sure I'll be reporting back!

The good news is: The Santa Rosa plum tree is, pretty-much, done for the season (Yay!!!).  But Satsuma Plum is about ready to *start* producing (Good Gawd - Save me from the madness!).  Actually, this is Satsuma's first "producing year" so it shouldn't be too bad (She says, delusionally!).

In other news:  Yesterday's Jam?  Well, first off: It didn't "set" properly (DAMMIT!).  No clue why!  This batch of fruit wasn't as runny as the plum jam was, and I used the same quantities of fruit and pectin :::shrug:::

I did stick one jar in the fridge and it did thicken-up once it was chilled.  I also sampled a taste of it and - DEFINITELY - omit the cloves.  Waaaaaayyyy too strong - at least for jam.  Now I'm sure it will taste simply delightful if it's used on, say, dessert crepes or something like that.  Or maybe rolled into a puff pastry dough?  But spread on your breakfast toast?  Not so much.  

And LASTLY:  I ate the LAST JAR of Sweet Corn Apple Relish :::GASP:::

I swear, that sh*t is soooo good, I can eat it cold - straight out of the jar!

Anyway, I have a fridge full of fresh corn on the cob (and the Farm-Share added to THAT collection, as well!), and Celery (again, Thanks Farm-Share), and pretty-much everything I need to whip-up another batch!  I think, if I find some energy, I might tackle that tonight!  Can NOT run out of Sweet Corn Apple Relish.  Noooooo!!!

Okay, was this post rambly enough?! (That was a rhetorical question!)  

I know I've got more stuff to report on: Bee Saga Updates (I downloaded the pictures, at least!), and Aquarium News.  The Garden - other than the trees - is still pretty quiet, overall.  I'll try to get back to our "Regularly Scheduled Programming" shortly.  In the meantime, I rather enjoy blathering mindlessly ;-)~


1 comment:

FinnyKnits said...

Really thought that was 158 pounds of plums.

My mind was boggling.

Still though - impressive.


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