Italian plum sorbet
Disclosure: If you don’t like fruit, or you don’t enjoy recipe/cooking posts, you might just want to skip this week. It’s going to be a little heavy on the plums.
I haven’t posted much yet about our fruit trees. My mistake. Our new home came with four apple trees, two cherry trees, a currant bush, a pear tree, and two plum trees–one Asian plum (think sweet, juicy cling-fruit) and one Italian prune plum (think dark purple freestone fruit).
The Asian plums came and went in July, and they were beautiful and delicious and, because of their juiciness and inseparable pits, pretty hard to work with. I made a plum salsa I was pretty happy with, and we ate a bunch of them fresh, and more than enough of them to fill a five-gallon bucket fell to the ground before we could get to them.
Plum salsa with taco fixins
But while I was out of town last weekend, our Italian plums came ripe. My wonderful partner got out the ladder and spent hours picking plums. It took two days and several wasp stings, but when we was done our fridge was packed with about 80 pounds of plums.
Our little orchard
The heavily-laden Italian plum tree, a week or two before harvest
So yesterday Ben and I went out to breakfast and mulled over what to do with all these plums. When we got home, we got to work. I started with a sorbet recipe that called for two pounds of pitted plums, which I doubled.
We'll never use up 80 lbs. at this rate.
Italian Plum Sorbet
2 lbs. Italian prune plums, halved and pitted
1/2 C. brown sugar
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. bourbon, optional
In a large pot, combine the plums and sugar and cook over medium heat, about 15-20 minutes, until plums reduce and sauce begins to thicken. Remove from stove and cool.
Add lemon juice and bourbon, and process in food processor until smooth. Place mixture in a glass pan in the freezer for four hours.
Remove from freezer and mix, by hand or in food processor again. Return to freezer until ready to serve.
Italian prune plums aren’t very sweet or juicy raw, so it’s amazing to watch them transform under heat into a sticky, sweet, colorful, juicy mess.
After processing and freezing, then processing and freezing again, I wound up with a sorbet that is complex and tangy and not too sweet. Perfect. I’ll be making more of this.
After the sorbet, I moved on to jam. I made three batches of jam, each using about four pounds of pitted plums.
4 lbs. Italian prune plums, pitted and diced
4 C. white sugar
1.5 C. Water
1/3 C. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. (I love my 6 quart Kobenstyle pot for jam because it holds heat so well, and the enamel makes it so easy to clean. Plus it’s lovely to look at.) Cook over medium heat for 40-50 minutes until temperature reaches 200F (jamming temperature at sea level).
Test the jam to see if it will set by sticking a couple of metal spoons in the freezer. Dip a cold spoon in the jam and watch the mixture flow off the back of the spoon. If it drips, it’s not ready; if it “sheets” off (drips combine together and run off slowly), it’s ready and will set up just fine when cooled.
These plums, like apples, have enough natural pectin that you don’t need to add any for the mixture to jell. I love that.
Before the next set of photos, I should note that I am not using a candy thermometer, because I don’t have one, and that this is not a great thermometer to use because it maxes out at 220F, which is what I’m trying to reach. I don’t rely heavily on a thermometer for jam, though maybe if I had an appropriate one, I would? Who knows.
Once it’s ready, remove the pot from heat, and fill your sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Process jam for 5-10 mins in a water bath. If you’ve never canned before, there are TONS of helpful guides on the internet, go check those out. It is not hard at all, but a little confidence will make it a lot more fun.
After the jam, we moved on to cakes, prunes and savory sauce. Yes, processing plums is ALL we did on Sunday. It was a little bit tedious, but in an attempt not to make it tedious for you, I’m going to break it up into a few posts.
Next time: cakes!