Friday, February 4, 2011

Roadside plum harvest

In almost any place around the world you will find wild fruit trees on the sides of the roads, particularly small country lanes.  In our region we are lucky to have an abundance of 'cherry plums' and apples (and plenty of blackberries too, but you would want to find an unsprayed patch - as most blackberries in our area get heavily sprayed), as well as chestnuts, peaches and pears.  Some groups are putting together 'scrumping' maps so that the whole community can make use of the harvest. 

I took the kids recently to pick a few buckets full of plums.  The kids ate heaps of them, about a kilogram was turned into a delicious chutney and another kilogram or so was made into wine.  I had planned on making jam as well, but didn't get around to it (last year I made several batches of plum jam).  Chutney making is very well suited to the woodstove, as it requires long slow cooking (something I never could do well on our old electric or gas cook tops - as I've always felt guilty about power use...).  My chutneys have become more or less just a creative process, not much measuring or weighing, just a bit of this and a bit of that!

The wine making is probably the least abount of work.  Last year I made about 12 or 13 bottles of blackberry wine (its been sitting for almost a year now in our cool pantry - we get to sample it in April this year).  This year I thought I would try to make wine from our local plums. The wine is fermeting away in its glass demijohn and will probably take a month or more before it stops, at which point I'll be able to bottle it. 

Its fun to use the foods that grow locally, and to learn different ways of preserving them.  I am looking forward to the apple harvests this year, as our roadside apples are loaded with fruit.  I am planning on drying a whole heap, plus making chutney, bottling some and making some cider.  Meanwhile the blackberries are starting to ripen...

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