We are quite disappointed with our present condition of homegrown stonefruits. We haven't really got a great enjoyment of our nectarines, peaches, let alone peacherines (the cross between peach and nectarine). Brown rot is our biggest enemy these days. With the temperature rises and humidity is getting higher, fungus on ripening fruits are spreading rapidly from only a tiny brown spot. We've done all we can. We mixed all the natural remedy for these fungi to stop spreading, nothing really works.
One sample on the photo on the left here can describe how disappointed we are. We love nectarines and we haven't really got to enjoy every one of them, at all. This year is really bad. With hopes so heap in Spring when all the blooms were so pretty and healthy, bees pollinating them freely, to the time when they were fat young fruits. By the end of Spring, we highly likely were given hope that we would enjoy them in Summer eventually, given how healthy they were.
When birds have started to smell the ripen ones, we watched them closely. Strolling in the orchard every morning and any time of the day would help controlling and finding out what's going on there. It gives us hope that we surely are going to pick healthy nectarines. Until we spotted that ugly fungus emerged from some where, we know that we will leave the hope to a disappointment.
In the morning when we sprayed, we're hoping that they would stay untouched by brown rot. I guess, we just hoped in vain. We could just stare at the many of them sadly rotten on trees the next day.
Sad things happen, really, given how hard we keep and look after these trees. It's really, really disappointing year.
Same thing happens to our late Summer peaches and peacherines. This time, I don't want to see them fall on the ground caused by the same disease. I picked them early, just when they ripe and still firm to bottle them. Many of them I stewed for our breakfast to accompany homemade muesli and yogurt, or just enjoy them with yogurt for desserts. I rescued the rests in jars, flavoured with vanilla beans, to be enjoyed anytime of the year.
I made 4 big jars in the morning and another 4 jars in the afternoon. I have a medium saucepan, so I have to work on them slowly. In a week, you can imagine how full my pantry is when I can make 8 jars a day! And there are still more peaches on the trees that are waiting to be picked. And I am not sure if I want to bottle them all.
I don't really measure things when preserving. I tend to combine and taste, but the thing is, the sweeter the syrup, the longer the fruits will keep. And above all, the freshest fruits are the best to bottled. I choose the ripe and firm peaches rather than soft and juicy, although the later is great stewed for desserts. But, for sure, I use this article as a guideline to preserve fruits. Make sure that when you pick fruits, they are healthy and dry.
I also preserve fruits by making jams, fruit cheese, and sauces. For fruit cheese, you can see the post here and here.
This is my recipe for Damson Plum Sauce.
5kg Damson plum, poached and stone removed
brown sugar, measured half the pulp (or if you want sweeter version of sauce, add more)
malt vinegar (I don't use much of it)
5-8 cloves garlic, mashed
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
freshly cracked black pepper
Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer. Cook until the sauce is thicken. Taste, add more spices if you need more flavour. Store in sterilized clean and hot jars. Sealed. I keep mine in a darkest place of pantry or cupboard. My sauce will keep till next Summer, unless we're using it a lot within a year :)
And here is my recipe for Plum Jam. I am using Black Dorris-Billington and Damson plums. Black Dorris-Billington is not as tart as Damson, therefore, I don't use much sugar for it, but I do a lot for Damson plums. I do not use any pectin or pectin sugar for jam, because these kind of plums have lots of pectin in them already.
white sugar, measured double the pulp for Damson (more if you want sweeter)
whole cloves, to flavour
1/2 cup water
Sterilized jars in the preheated oven to 120C, for 15-30 minutes. Make sure the jars are clean and dry. I usually boil the lids as well and only removed and dried them to seal. Put all the plums in a large saucepan, pour in the water. Bring to boil in a low heat. I stir while boiling to prevent any catch on the bottom. When the plums are tender, put them through a colander into a big bowl. Mashed to remove the stones. Discard the whole cloves, stones and skin. Measure the pulp and return it to the saucepan. Add white sugar to the equal measure of pulp or double. Stir while heating up to dissolved the sugar. Bring to a rapid boil, cook until reaching the jam setting point (if you drop a teaspoonful of mixture on a saucer, you'll find out it will not become runny if you run your finger through it). Remove the jars from the oven with safety kitchen gloves or tongs. Pour the jam into the jars immediately and sealed. I just allow them to cool before storing them in my pantry.