• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Pearl Sutton
  • James Freyr
stewards:
  • Burra Maluca
  • Mike Haasl
  • Joylynn Hardesty
master gardeners:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • thomas rubino
  • Jay Angler
  • Tereza Okava

About to drown in native plums

 
Posts: 39
Location: Medford, Oregon 8a, 21” precipitation. Clay soil.
21
rabbit books food preservation fiber arts medical herbs bee
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hoping for some creative solutions to turn this excess into a valuable resource. I’ve been breaking my head over this dilemma for the past five years and now it’s time to infuse some new ideas.

I have plums.

I have plums like a stray dog has fleas.

Native plum trees, the kind with the tangy fruit about the size of the top joint of your thumb, surround two sides of my back yard. The ones on the short side are on our property, but the ones on the long side are on the neighbor’s. Roughly 20 trees, all told. And in a couple of weeks, they’re all going to come ripe. We’ve already got fruit falling, but soon it will be lots of squishy fruit.

I make some jam with it, which is tasty but the process of removing the pits is incredibly laborious. I cook it down and then use a food mill, picking out all the pits with a spoon as they start clogging the mill. I’ve tried using a cherry pitter, as the plums are about the same size as a large cherry, but the stones are a bit bigger than cherry stones  and it ends up a frustrating, even more laborious mess. And frankly, we just don’t eat enough jam to warrant that amount of work. I’ve also made BBQ sauce and Asian-inspired plum sauce, but same issue—not enough use for the amount of labor it costs.

My goals for this:
* low labor investment
* doesn’t involve brewing alcohol, as I’ve had some spectacular failures in this arena and I’ve promised the spousal unit I will not be doing that again
* creates a usable product, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be food
* low sugar, if it is food/drink

Ideas? I did check out a (previous thread But those mostly centered on umeboshi and similar products, but the labor for the sheer volume we are talking about here is untenable.
 
Posts: 71
19
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My buddy was telling me about something called a steam juicer.
It sounded like something that would work great for processing fruit that requires alot of processing.

 I can't add much more than that but he was very happy about having one,
wouldn't go back.

 
pollinator
Posts: 1117
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
86
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wild plum butter is my favorite.  You can adjust the sugar anyway you want. I prefer slightly tart.  No pectin needed. Just cook until it is as thick as you like. I think an old school colander might work better for pits that size. Cook until soft first.
 
pollinator
Posts: 685
Location: Ashhurst New Zealand
178
duck trees chicken cooking wood heat woodworking homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Plum wine. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, slivovitz!
 
gardener & author
Posts: 1923
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
379
trees food preservation solar greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Feeding chickens? Maybe you'd use more eggs than jam? But then that's only one season, and you still have to feed and care for the chickens all year
 
master pollinator
Posts: 1974
Location: 4b
437
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I take the pits, put them in damp vermiculite in a barely opened Ziploc bag, and put them in the fridge all winter. In spring, I plant the ones that start sprout into root pouches for use in my land, or to sell.  I have half a dozen that I started this spring, but I'm keeping these to add to my hedge row. This year I'll put a couple hundred pits away. My germination is only about 25 percent.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1067
Location: Denmark 57N
275
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
make jelly, juice, syrup, squash, wine, vinegar... they all start the same way

Take the plums and boil them whole until they mush, then tip the whole lot into a colander this will sieve out the stones and most of the skin, take the resulting liquid and put it through a sieve, that will get the last bits of skin/flesh. If you want your jelly/juice/wine clear you'll need to put this liquid through a jelly bag, but you don't need to do that if you don't mind a bit of cloudyness.

Now you have cooked plum juice and you can do what you want with it, boil hard with sugar to make jelly (it won't need added pectin) bring to the boil with sugar/citric acid to make squash or syrup, adjust the sugar and acid to get the taste you want. and secretly in a corner ferment it to make wine/vinegar :p
 
pollinator
Posts: 149
Location: Hamburg, Germany
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like the idea of pushing the mush through a colander!  (It will still be fussy but less so.)

Juicing it, either through a traditional press or a steam juicer, could give you something to work with.  Then feel no guilt in composting the pits and mush.  (You may end up with more wild plums sprouting up!)

I have a lot of rhubarb and have been making this simple syrup:  http://nwedible.com/the-rhubarb-75/  Nice in sparkling water, far too nice with gin.  In the case of rhubarb you also get a sweet mush that is pleasant on toast instead of jam, but again composting the mush is fine too.
 
pollinator
Posts: 337
Location: East tn
85
hugelkultur foraging homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I use the green plums (unripe) in chimichiri.

Lowest effort I think would be to salt brine them in open top container. Mush them every few days. Separate after a few weeks, should fall off pits easy at that point. Plum sauce of savory variety.
 
master steward
Posts: 3493
Location: USDA Zone 8a
979
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Shawn, our first property had a plum tree much like what you are describing.

It made great jelly.  We cut the plum, then cooked them.  When done we strained the juice and made jelly.

If you have chickens you can give the strained skins and pits to them.  They will love you!
 
Shawn Foster
Posts: 39
Location: Medford, Oregon 8a, 21” precipitation. Clay soil.
21
rabbit books food preservation fiber arts medical herbs bee
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some interesting ideas here. I’m thinking the steam juicer and whole brined options might fit with the low labor aspect I’m looking for. (I make jam/plum butter with these about every two years because we just don’t use it fast enough; this is a no-jam year.) I hate seeing all this free fruit That we do absolutely nothing to maintain go to waste, so definitely keep those ideas coming!
 
Posts: 64
Location: Oklahoma Panhandle
8
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We used to go through the time consuming process of pitting plums until we went to a big cookout where the dessert was sand plum cobbler with a scoop of home made ice cream on top. (Amazing!)  We were warned pits have not been removed. It was no problem.  We have not removed pits in plums since, just bag them up and put them in the freezer.  It takes all the work out of it and makes it almost enjoyable to harvest them.
 
Shawn Foster
Posts: 39
Location: Medford, Oregon 8a, 21” precipitation. Clay soil.
21
rabbit books food preservation fiber arts medical herbs bee
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like the idea of throwing them whole into the freezer, Bryan. That would at least spread the labor out over more time, rather than all in one crush.
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
Posts: 1117
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
86
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Something eats them before they are quit ripe here. Can you pick them while they are still hard if you are cooking with them?
 
Shawn Foster
Posts: 39
Location: Medford, Oregon 8a, 21” precipitation. Clay soil.
21
rabbit books food preservation fiber arts medical herbs bee
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you use them to make umeboshi, which is traditionally made with unripe plums, that would work. Otherwise, definitely not recommended. They are quite tart even when fully ripe!
 
gardener
Posts: 2937
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
309
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great thread!
We have a single plum tree and it makes plenty of fruit all on its own!
I do wish I had s steam juicer,  but drying them into prunes could work as well.

I've noticed that ripe plumbs are almost wine already,  so I'm wondering if you could mix them with apple cider vinegar and go quickly from plum wine to plum vinegar?

We might make some plumb Brown Betty for the gluten intolerant customers at the farmers market.
Our ripe plums are very soft,  I wonder if we could use almost ripe plums for easy of handling and add sugar to them if needed.
 
Posts: 62
9
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would definitely make vinegar. I use those giant picke jars. Fill them with fruit, cover with water and 1 Tbsp. sugar per cup. Cover with coffee filter or cloth. Stir daily till I forget and it forms a mother. Super easy.

You could collect the fruit and do a sale, barter or giveaway.  Maybe post on Craigslist, FreeCycle or whatever, put a "U-Pick" sign up. At least then it gets used! And those people can practice finding uses for an abundance they wouldn't have otherwise. You can share recipes!

 
pollinator
Posts: 198
Location: SW Ohio
39
duck forest garden fish fungi trees tiny house chicken cooking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Shawn Foster wrote:If you use them to make umeboshi, which is traditionally made with unripe plums, that would work. Otherwise, definitely not recommended. They are quite tart even when fully ripe!


I love umeboshi so much. I think imma get salt poisoning from eating too many. In a video I watched they waited until the plums started to ripen slightly to process them, rather than doing it when they were totally green. They just kept the green ones in a paper bag until they got a tinge of color.
 
Shawn Foster
Posts: 39
Location: Medford, Oregon 8a, 21” precipitation. Clay soil.
21
rabbit books food preservation fiber arts medical herbs bee
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Other experiments I’ve tried with these included not pitting them, such as whole pickled plums (with chai spices, which was tasty) and straight-up canning them with a very light syrup. They were ok, but the very high pit-to-flesh ratio of them makes for effortful eating. I’m lazy and don’t like my eating to involve that much work. 🙂 I was the only one who ate these.

I will definitely be sharing the excess with the community, Bihai. Love the idea of including recipes! These will probably be my first item on the planned Free Food stand by the road this year.
 
pollinator
Posts: 248
79
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wild plums tend to be clingstone, which is why the pits are harder to remove. I sometimes treat them like a very tiny mango, and just slice as much of the fruit off as I can in a single cut per side, then not worry about the rest. Or, use the pit with the remaining flesh still clinging to it, and float it in a drink for a little plum flavor.

But I would think that the best return-on-labor ratio would be achieved through the steam juicer.

For what to do with them, I like pies and cobblers. Although wines and vinegars are a close second. Most of the fruit I can is in a light syrup, so I can make it into pie filling easily.
 
Shawn Foster
Posts: 39
Location: Medford, Oregon 8a, 21” precipitation. Clay soil.
21
rabbit books food preservation fiber arts medical herbs bee
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pretty excited—I found a steam canner on Marketplace for about a third of what they go for new. Made the first batch of juice tonight and it’s so gorgeous! It’s a little flat tasting, but it’ll work beautifully as a pectin in with other fruit or concentrated down to a syrup and mixed with a bit of lime. And it was so easy! Hooray!
 
Squanch that. And squanch this tiny ad:
Devious Experiments for a Truly Passive Greenhouse!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/paulwheaton/greenhouse-1
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic