Sunday, 6 September 2009
It won't be long now before they are all gone . . . beautiful English plums. Those lucious ruby coloured gems that taste so sweet and lovely.
We are fortunate enough to have trees filled with several different varieties here on the Estate actually . . . purple Italian, green gages, mirabels and lovely little ordinary ruby coloured ones, whose name escapes me right now . . . they're all lovely and free from pesticides and other chemicals. I guess you could call them organic, except that the orchards that surround us are not pesticide free so . . .
I have frozen bags and bags of them to use up in the winter months ahead. I've made cakes and pies and tarts til they've come out my ears, and lovely they have been too.
I like to keep a bowl of them on the counter and eat them fresh. I leave them until they are just about to go over . . . so soft, sweet and juicy, you need to eat them over the sink . . . that is when they taste the best and the sweetest in my opinion . . . little ruby coloured bites of heaven.
When we have had our fill of fresh, and pies and crumbles, cakes and tarts . . .
I make chutney. Delicious. Sweet. Spicy. Perfect to go with roasted meats or in a very tasty cheese sandwich. Even better in a toasted cheese sandwich, all buttery and crisp on the outside and meltingly cheese and chutney-ee on the insides. Ohh . . . yum, yum . . . I know what I'm having for lunch today . . . wish you could join me, truly I do . . .
*Spicy Plum Chutney*
Makes about 3 pounds
This is the perfect time of year to make this delicious chutney. Better do it quick before the plums are all gone!
1.5kg of ripe plums
2 pounds of bramley apples, peeled and chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
450g cooking onions, peeled and chopped
200g sultana raisins
2 star anise
4 cardamom pods, bruised with knife
200g granulated sugar
400ml white wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Stone the plums and chop. Put them into a large saucepan with the garlic cloves, onions, apples, sultanas, star anise, cardamom pods, sugar and 300ml of the white wine vinegar. Season with some salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Simmer for 25-30 minutes, until tender. Add the remaining white wine vinegar and the port. Cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring often, or until thickened. If it still seems a bit runny, simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
Place into hot sterilized jars, dividing it equally amongst them. Place a disc of waxed paper directly on top of the hot chutney. (Alternately melt some paraffin wax and pour this immediately over top of the hot chutney. I bring mine over from Canada and it is for the express use of sealing jams and preserves.) Seal with airtight lids and store in a cool dark place for at least one month before using. This will keep up to six months if kept out of sunlight. Refrigerate once opened. Will keep for a further 2 months in the refrigerator.