The plum tree is weighed down with fruit this year.
Last time we had a crop like this, an entire branch fell off, laden with unripe plums. This broken tree led to the silver lining that was green plum chutney. The tree seems to have recovered but this year I thought I would avert disaster by harvesting some unripe plums in advance and making chutney. I picked 3 kilos, barely leaving a dent in the crop but aware that at least the branches were 3 kilos lighter:
Now to make the chutney but I couldn’t find a recipe anywhere. What did I do last time? I had no idea so had to look up my own blog to find out. Which involved sitting down, turning on the laptop and getting distracted by other people’s blogs, tweets, cats and news. It was so much simpler when you just reached for a recipe book. I first came across the bizarre practice of googling recipes one year when we were on holiday and my boys had an urge to get up early and make oatcakes for breakfast (as you do). I was amazed ‘But we don’t have a recipe’. ‘We just looked one up online’. Astonishing, but now I find myself tempted to do this too when my faithful recipe books can’t supply the answer. As I’ve explained, this brings many hazards so it is usually better to rely on the books. We have a whole shelf, mostly well used and rather battered:
My mother gave me this when I first left home as a student and it has followed me around since. Usually I follow the ‘make it up as you go along’ approach to cooking and don’t rely on recipes at all but this book contains several important family recipes: The Christmas Pudding*, the Christmas Cake and the endlessly useful Plum and apple cake recipes . In this little book I can also find Green Tomato Marmalade, Plum (or rhubarb) flapjack , lavender biscuits, rosemary Christmas trees. If I can’t find a recipe in there, I can usually find what I need in one of the cookery books on the shelf.
But not what to do with 3 kilos of unripe plums. My previous blog post helpfully told me to adapt a green tomato chutney recipe. Here’s what I did this time (duly adapted from a green tomato chutney recipe in one of my faithful books). I included a couple of not yet ready cooking apples from the Howgate Wonder as it is also threatening to collapse under the weight of fruit this year:
Green Plum Chutney
- 2kg green plums
- 3 onions
- a couple of cooking apples
- 450ml malt vinegar
- 350g brown sugar
- a 2cm piece of fresh ginger (or equivalent dried ginger)
- a handful of peppercorns
- a glug of green ginger wine
- 1tsp salt
- Wash, stone and slice the plums
- Chop the onions
- Peel, core and chop the apples
- Put everything in a large pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently until the chutney had thickened (probably about 45 mins)
- Pour into warm, sterilised jars
Duly noted in my recipe book for future reference:
The observant and numerate among you will have noticed that the above recipe only uses 2 kilos of plums – that’s because they wouldn’t all fit in my big pan. So I have one kilo left, and today I’m going to try and work out how to make them into plum pickle – several reliable books have been ransacked for relevant recipes and I am in the process of adapting them for the ingredients I actually have – watch this space once I’ve worked out how to do it.
*You’ll notice that I haven’t given you the recipe for the Christmas Pudding. It is an ancient and secret recipe which has been passed down from mother to daughter over several generations – I will pass it on to my sons in due course.