This week, I’ve been harvesting lovely, juicy plums from the tree at the back of my garden.
I find this a very exciting time of the year. Whether you’re at the allotments, the local park, or just wandering around outside, the hedgerows and trees are full of fruity bounty whilst bags of surplus plums and apples are on offer on roadsides around many a corner.
So what to do with all this produce? What can we do to get the best out of our harvest, whether we’re eating fresh, cooking or storing?
Here are my favourite things to do with 6 of the most commonly found Autumn fruit.
Damson Jam is the Tastiest Jam
If you find some damson, I’d recommend using them to make a season’s store of jam. For me, ‘jamson’ is the tastiest jam available to man, even beating strawberry. I don’t make much, as the preparation is annoyingly fiddly, but the end product is gorgeous.
The jam is a striking deep, red colour, and being that bit tarter than other fruit, the jam is a refreshingly sharper taste than most others.
From the same tree as elderflowers, elderberries are found in both town and countryside all over the UK. I use elderberries to bulk up hedgerow jams, but if you fancy something different, my mate makes a very passable elderberry wine…
Apples are great to deal with as they’re easy to store into the winter months. I’ll beg, forage and swap as many apples as I can during harvest time for this reason alone. I’m more of a cooker than a dessert man, but both stores just as well (in fact, some apples such as the D’arcy Spice improve after storing).
I wrap my apples in newspaper and leave them in my shed. Here’s a blog post from last year on how I store apples.
I find plums a tricky customer. They all ripen around the same time, and unless you can store in the fridge, the fruits go off very quickly.
Immediately I make a crumble, as this traditional dessert is my very favourite thing to do with plums. I like the odd cake too, such as Nigel Slater’s plum and almond cake, and I’ll also leave a few hanging around for eating on the fly.
Of course, there are only so many plums anyone can eat and given the glut like harvests that most plum trees deliver, I tend to freeze most of mine. If you want to do this, you’ve got two options: stew up first, or just freeze whole.
I prefer to stew up, with a couple of spoonfuls of sugar. Plums produce plenty of juice when stewed, but do add a trickle into the bottom of the pan beforehand to prevent the fruits burning.
I struggle to find greengages much these days, which is a real shame as they’re possibly my favourite fruit of all. As Celia Hart said on Twitter this week, they are ‘nectar’.
Every so often a tree in the local park serves up a bumper harvest and when it does I make jam, but normally greengages are just left around to eat. I love these fruits so much that I feel guilty stewing or jamming when they taste so good
Just eat all the fruits straight off the cane. Don’t even let them get home. 🙂