Monthly Archives: August 2013

Plum Wonderful!

pluotMy neighbor and organic gardener friend, Lucy, brought me some beautiful pluots last week.  I never tasted this pink fleshed sweet-tart fruit (pluot – plum/apricot) until I lived in the Pacific Northwest.  She brought grafts from her trees in California when she moved up here and this is the first season they have fruited in abundance.  Seems like everything up here in the Pacific Northwest is lush this summer!  The next day, my other organic gardener and artist friend, Jackie brought me some figs and Italian Plums from her garden.  I have also started picking some apples from my own trees, so I had an abundance of fruit on hand.

Once the fruit flies started circling…I knew I had better find a solution for all this fruit! It was then I came across a lovely blog called The Savory Sweet Life and found a recipe for Plum Jam without using pectin.  I don’t object to pectin, I just didn’t have any on hand.  This was great…a 3 ingredient solution to my plum dilemma!  Upon Googling further, I found another article about using figs in plum jam from What A Dish!    This one also had no pectin in it!  Yet another recipe told me that pureed cooked apples had enough pectin in them to substitute for the powdery stuff!  I was in luck.

Jumbling all these recipes together, I came up with Plum Wonderful….a spicy fig, apple, pluot, Italian Plum Jam to die for!  Sooooo good.  Try some!

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2 apples, peeled, seeded, quartered and cooked.  Then puree the apples in a food processor.

 

Dip plums, pluots, and figs (or any other stone fruit like apricots or peaches, any you like) into boiling hot water for 2 minutes, remove with slotted spoon and put into an ice bath until cooled (about 5 minutes).  When cooled, peel and remove stones. The fruit will peel very easily.

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Dice peeled fruit to make 4 cups into sauce pan and simmer on medium heat until fruit starts to soften.  I like my jam chunky, so I used a potato masher to break up the fruit into smaller chunks….but not smooth like applesauce.  Leave chunky.

Add:  1 cup sugar, 1 cup apple puree, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. ground ginger, 1/2 t. Allspice to pot and simmer on low until liquid is decreased and mixture is thickened.

You can then add 2 T fresh lemon juice or freshly squeezed orange juice to mixture and simmer another 5 minutes.  Cool and pour into jelly jars.  Refrigerate when cool.  Keeps in the refrigerator up to 2 months.

Since the kids are out of town on a family vacation this week, I can’t wait til they get back and we can try this on our PB&Js.  If they were here, they could help with dicing fruit, measuring ingredients, but probably not with the cooking….hot jam splashes really hurt!  Just be careful to keep the temperature low and be careful when pouring it into the jars!

Sweet, spicy, flavors of fall and the abundance of summer!  Plum Wonderful!

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What To Do With All Those Tomatoes!

This year is a bumper crop for tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest…which is unusual.  Tomatoes are among the hardest fruit to grow up here because of the cool summers and short growing season, but this summer, they seem to be thriving and I have a lot of them!  (That is what Global Climate Change does to us!)

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Besides eating them still warm from the sun with a bit of salt and pepper, tossing them into salads (I especially like the yellow pear tomatoes for that!),  I also make them into spaghetti sauce and tomato paste.  But this year, the gkids and I decided to try to make our own catsup, ketchup,…or however you say it or spell it!

To make catsup you can start with tomato paste or make your own by cooking down your chopped tomatoes, adding a bit of onion, salt and pepper (perhaps a bit of oregano for an Italian flair!) and simmer them over medium heat until they have reduced by 1/2 – this takes a couple of hours on lowered heat.  MMMM…very sweet and delicious all by itself!

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This basic recipe is good for making spaghetti sauce or in Nana’s World Famous Chili! or to top off Nana’s Special Meatloaf!  (see recipes page!)

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But today we are making catsup! So after cooking the tomatoes down to half their volume, I put the cooled batch through a blender or food processor.  When I am making catsup, I use tomatoes that have been peeled (Dunk them in boiling water for 2 minutes and the skins will come right off!)  Once the mixture has been blended, return the pureed mixture back to the pot and add in the spices.

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For 2 1/2 cups of Nana’s Spicy Ketchup you will need:

4 lbs. of tomatoes, peeled and diced.  Add salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning if you wish and cook down to 4 cups. (1/2 the original volume).  Puree in food processor and return to pan.

To the pan add:

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 – 4 T dark brown sugar

3 T apple cider vinegar

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 T salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup water

Juice of 1/2 lemon.

I like my Ketchup smoky…so I also add 1 tsp. ground cumin – this is optional.

Cook and simmer together for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, to again reduce the mixture by half.  The Ketchup should be thick and creamy.  If they are lumps, cool and puree again.  When mixture is completely cool, add to sterilized jars with tight fitting lids.  Stores in the refrigerator for up 3 months.

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Now wouldn’t that taste good on a Summer Grilled Burger?  Enjoy that taste of summer all year long!