It’s plum season round here and, although plums are making a showing at a whopping $8/kg in the shops and stands, the trees in my neighbourhood are heavy with lovely fruit. I’ve certainly been known to pull one off the tree, give it a good shine on my shirt and eat it right there in the garden. But what happens when there’s far too much fruit to eat out of hand? Well, if you’re a kiwi, and it really does seem to be a kiwi thing, you can it. Well, first you make it into something delicious like plum chutney or plum jam, maybe even plum sauce. Then you put it in freshly sterilized jars and put it in the cupboard to enjoy on those plumless days midwinter.
Earlier this week you could find me and quite a few of my (neighbour’s) plums in my friend’s kitchen chopping plums and red onions for plum chutney. We made eight gorgeous jars of the stuff and our daughters proclaimed it (without even tasting it) New Zealand’s best plum chutney. Although you ought to wait about a week to open a jar, we had to open one that night with our lamb sausages. It was tasty as. And a bit spicy too, thanks to the dried chilies.
The very next day you could find me in another friends kitchen talking about her strawberry jam making. Turns out her very helpful husband brought her not one but two buckets of “jam strawberries.” These are the unlucky berries that didn’t make it (because of quality or size) into the punnets of perfect sale-worthy strawberries that sometimes sell for $4 or more a chip. $5 for a bucket is a great price! Two buckets becomes, well, a bit of a chore. That’s a lot of jam! Maybe enough to start sending it to the starving kids in Africa. But can it she did. It’s the kiwi way, it seems.
After hearing about her jam adventures, we wandered out to her garden to take a look at, among other things, her rather prolific apple tree. Although a bit early for apples here in the southern hemisphere, her tree was producing some beautiful and quite large, tart apples. Great for applesauce. I offered to help her pick some and one thing led to another. Back to the kitchen to start peeling and chopping. And then, what the heck, let’s make some applesauce. It’s not the first batch of applesauce she’s made. She had just put some up the other day. After getting a bucket of apples and making a big batch of the stuff, her husband, ever helpful, brought in another bloody bucketful. What a girl to do? Make more applesauce. Applesauce for Africa! The jars joined last year’s bounty on the shelf.
So did I take a day of rest? A day without canning or bottling something? Nope. Earlier today you could find me back in friend #1′s kitchen chopping cucumbers and capsicum (red bell peppers) for a yummy chutney that my husband loves. He’s not a big plum or applesauce fan so I really needed to make some of this cucumber and capsicum chutney. But chutney wasn’t enough. Oh no. I had stopped at the strawberry stand and gotten myself one of those $5 buckets of “jam strawberries.” This time it was the two girls who got busy prepping the strawberries. They made quite the mess, but when they were done we had two big freezer bags full of what were now known as “smoothie strawberries” for the freezer. There were a few strawberries that were just a bit too soft for future smoothies so I cooked them up into some lovely strawberry jam.
And now I’m tired. Thankfully, I’ve already made tons of guacamole from the big bag of avocados that I just couldn’t resist buying last week!