After I had bottled 9 kg of the plums I then decided to dry some plums. This is a relatively easy and quick, especially if you have a dehydrator, way of preserving in that the plums are cut in half, the stones taken out and then laid out in trays and straight into the dehydrator. No plum sitting & you can get on with other jobs. Last time this year I made a Christine Ferber jam which introduced me to the idea of using both fresh and dried fruit in a jam. The recipe was for Alsatian Quetsch Plums with walnuts: I substituted Victorias and I then found fresh walnuts at Kilver Court Farm Shop. The result was an incredibly rich jam- the richness coming from the dried Victorias- rich in flavour and in the depth of colour. The fresh walnuts provided texture and a creaminess which contrasted with the dark richness of the jam. This is a jam which could be used to go equally well with cheese or with scones/ toast. It is quite a dense jam because of the fact it has 2 lots of fruit. Hopefully the walnuts will appear this year and I will make the jam with the Purple Pershores- bottled & dried- if not maybe I’ll try it with hazel or cobnuts. The only problem being that they are expensive to buy.
On a recent walk to see what wild fruit is out there: I saw wild hazelnuts but they are quite small and are not very plentiful. Squirrel? There are, however, plenty of elder & blackberries & rosehips and a new growth of nettles which makes me think, maybe I should make some nettle pesto & nettle gnocchi-Dennis Cotter recipe- again. I also looked out for wild apples and they are appearing but are much smaller than last year But the bad news is that there are very very few bullaces.
Next on the to-do list was to gently poach some plums and then put them in a Jelly Bag over a bowl overnight, then in the morning freeze the juice and the pulp so that I can make fruit cheese and jelly at a later date. I always taste the juice in the morning and make notes on this tasteing. This is a very important time for finding out about the fruit- it’s acidity, it’s sweetness, it’s dryness and whether anyone of these aspects dominates or lasts longer than the others. I repeat this on the day when I’m going to make a jelly and this gives me the clues to which spices or sometimes teas or herbs I’ll use with the fruit. It’s an exicitng part of the process and quite often I’ll also taste the other ingredients- yes I wander round my tiny kitchen chewing all kinds of peppers– long/ muntock/ tellicherry/schezuan until I find the one–