Despite my utter uselessness when it comes to gardening we have actually been lucky enough to inherit an obviously previously very well-tended garden which keeps surprising us again and again.
The first summer we bought our house we had tonnes of apples. Seriously, it was insane. I had at least 20kg of them off of one tree and ended up composting all those that were slightly nibbled as there are only so many apples you can use. I even broke my juicer through over use! Since then harvest has been much less spectacular but then the poor old tree did take a beating when it had to be chopped back to put railings up to keep the kids from falling off the wall that runs behind it.
Last summer after we had moved in I also discovered scores of raspberries down the bottom of the garden which I made into icecreams, jams and even ate fresh or in jellies. They had to be used very quickly as they were very ripe when I found them.
This summer for the first time we have had cherries (which the birds mainly got although the kids managed to get a fair few of the low hanging ones too). I wasn’t upset about the loss of the cherries though as I enjoyed having the birds in the garden.
This week on returning from our travels we have had the happy suprise of finding out that not only do we have one fruiting plum tree but we seem to have three!
One is a Damson tree, another is a Mirabelle tree and is nearly ready and the other has what I believe to be Greengages on it. I managed to get most of the Damsons before the birds got them giving me about 2 kilos of plums to deal with. Unsure of what to do I started googling and quickly found some interesting recipes.
I didn’t particularly want to make any desserts as I have some other cake ideas on hold at the moment (there is only so much pudding you can eat). However, I did have plenty of fruit I had frozen before leaving to go on holiday and so some of the plums got de-stoned and added to the mix to make some Summer fruit jam.
After all that de-stoning I was keen on something which required less work (Damson flesh tends to stick to the stone). It was a toss up between a cordial or a flavoured liqueur… Damson Vodka won!
It was a very simple recipe that I borrowed off Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in the Guardian.
- 1kg Damson Plums
- 500g Sugar
- 1l Vodka (use good quality or else you’ll regret all your hard work).
- Prick the plums all over with a pin.
- Place in a 2.5 litre sterile container (I used a 5 litre jar which I sterilised by baking in the oven at 125°C for 20 minutes before taking it out to cool).
- Add the plums and then the sugar.
- Add the vodka.
- Seal the jar and place in a cool place out of sunlight.
- Invert the jar every week or two for 6 months.
- After 6 months filter the mixture through a muslin.
- Keep for another 6 months minimum.
Easy peasy! My jar is now sitting in our cellar room and my phone is programmed with reminders so I don’t forget about it.
The fact that the kids get to grow up eating produce from our own garden is fantastic for me – although they definitely won’t be trying the vodka! Can’t wait for the rest of the plums to be ripe and I’m very excited about next summer!
I wonder why some trees don’t fruit every year?
Does anyone have any suggestions for Mirabelle or Greengage recipes? It looks like there are a lot more of them than we had Damsons!