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Plum and apple gluts

Freezing plums and apples

Lazy cook’s apple puree

Apples
Prep the apples outside if you like…

Have you got a hopeless apple tree in your garden? One that still fruits, but the apples are tiny, bitter or covered with scab or other ailments?

I have one (the infamous tree grown from a pip when I was a kid and am too sentimental to chop down) and after a four-year programme of restorative pruning, it has finally borne a decent crop of apples.

The only thing is, it’s a Cox Orange Pippin or similar – very prone to scab and we are in a very scabby area, if that doesn’t sound too bad.

It’s a real chore to core, peel and chop such apples and life’s too short. However, this recipe is so quick and laid back you can prepare them outside (as I did) on a nice day. The only pain in the ass is pushing the stuff through a colander, but you can’t have everything.

It freezes well, to be used as apple sauce, a puree on yoghurt, or in cakes, etc.

  • 240ml for each kilo of apples, weighed whole
  • Juice of half a lemon per kilo of apples
  • To taste – sugar, cinnamon and cloves

Put the water in a preserving pan (or any large heavy pot with a cover).

Quarter the apples, unpeeled and uncored – only cut out really bruised bits – and add to the pan. Add the lemon juice.

On a high hob, cook covered until the apples are soft (my preserving pan doesn’t have a cover, so I use a wok lid.

If there’s an excess of liquid, let some cook away. Let the apples cool for a few hours until workable.

Using a colander, press the cooked apples through to separate the puree from the skins and seeds.
Heat the puree and season with cinnamon, cloves and sugar as desired.

Dish out into freezer boxes or bags, then cool, label and freeze.


Freezing plums

Plums
Flash freezing trays of halved, stoned plums

Last year was the first time my Japanese blood plum Lizzie fruited in any quantity – but we were overwhelmed with produce.

These plums ripen very quickly, in a few days, from yellow to dark red. When completely ripe, the flesh is dark red, hence the name blood plum. They’re small and juicy but 5kg picked in a day was obviously going to go off, as we can’t eat that many fresh.

Like most fruits (except strawberries), they freeze well. Half each plum and remove the stone – messy work – do it over a pan to catch the juice.

Put the stone in the pan too (trust me here).

Place each plum half on a baking tray and freeze without covering until frozen, then put them in a freezer bag. This way, they remain separate and don’t form a huge squashed mass.

As for the stones and juice, there’s always flesh left on them and it’s too good to waste. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or so, then rub the contents through a sieve. Once you’ve got all the flesh/juice through, discard the stones.

This puree is excellent to add to crumbles, etc – it will freeze too.

NOTE: you can freeze the fruit whole, but this wastes lots of freezer space.


Plum compote

Plums
Plum compote

Japanese blood plum Lizzie performed beyond all expectations, producing so much fruit that I had to flash freeze kilos of them.

As they were taking up half the freezer, and I needed the space for Christmas food, I decided to make a loose compote.

If you’re unfamiliar with compotes, they don’t ‘set’ like jam, as they usually don’t have anywhere near the amount of sugar, nor do they need to be boiled at such a rapid temperature.

The down side? They don’t keep as well.

In this case, a full drawer of plums in the freezer made one large and two medium Kilner jars full. I used a 500g bag of granulated sugar, which made it sweet enough for me.

All you need to do is stew the plums (defrosted if they are frozen) with sugar to taste. Heat slowly, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the fruit is cooked.

Pot up into sterilised jars (wash thoroughly, then put in a cool oven for 10 minutes. Keep in the fridge.

You end up with a delightful pink compote, excellent for breakfast with yoghurt and high-fibre cereals.


Easy plum Tarte Tatin

Plums
Ripe plums

My mother has made this for years – don’t faff about making puff pastry, buy a frozen pack. There are loads of fancy recipes on the internet, usually involving marzipan/almonds, but this is the one she makes:

  • 75g Demerara sugar
  • 75g chopped hazelnuts
  • Half teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Approx 1lb/500g plums (as many as you need to cover the base of the tin), halved, stones removed

1 pack frozen puff pastry, defrosted

Preheat oven to 220°C, gas mark 7.

Use a solid round 8″ cake tin. Place on a baking tray, as juices can run out.

Mix sugar, hazelnuts and cinnamon and spread evenly over the base of the tin and arrange plums on top, cut-side down.

Roll out the pastry to a circle the same size as the tin, then place pastry over the fruit and tuck the edges around the plums. Poke a few holes in the top of the pastry to let steam escape.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the plums are tender. Loosen the edges and turn out on to a plate. Serve with custard or vanilla/ginger ice cream.