Putting Fruit Away
This year has been a great year for fruit in my little corner of the world. Everyone has fruit, whether or not they want it. Even us, with are recently transplanted berries and wild plums had something to put away in the freezer (the plums, and we simply ate all the berries as they ripened).
My Main Man’s cousins have this 20-foot tall apricot tree and they gathered several small boxes of apricots. The gooey ones went to our chickens and the nice ones I pitted and put into the freezer in quart bags. Nine quarts in all! There were many more on the tree, but time and height limited what we could process.
While all our wild plums blossomed this spring, most were hit by that late May frost. The few closest to the ditch fruited and it was enough to put pitted plums (the size of large cherries) into the freezer (4.5 quarts). Pitting these plums was a treat as they were so sweet periodically licking the juice off my hands was a worthy perk.
My mom has an old grape vine on her property along their ditch and the amount of grapes was truly astonishing. In all, I took ~80-90 pounds of grapes from her. She also gave away many more pounds to neighbors and friends. I cleaned my grapes by a simple rinse (my mom doesn’t use pesticides/herbicides), separated the good grapes from the questionable, and then crushed or blended the good grapes prior to simmering them for hours. The whole house smelled like heaven – sweet, warm grape goodness.
My kitchen is too hot in the summer to do long-haul baking, etc. So, my goal was to process the grapes to the point where I could put them up in the freezer and make jam later in the year, when it is cooler. Once simmered, I let cool, and then we placed the goo into gallon freezer bags. That goo tasted incredible – sweet with 0 (zero) sugar added. With the tail end of the simmered grapes, M3 made grape juice, removing the seeds and skin but leaving the pulp. That was very good as well. All together, we had 6 or 7 gallons of grape goodness.
I gave a few quarts to the guy who runs the local cafe. He makes everything himself and runs the cafe 5 days a week. He turned some of the plums and grapes into a pie (for M3’s birthday) which was one of the best pies I have ever had. I also sampled his plum-grape muffins earlier this week. Some of that grape goo might not make it to jam-hood.