February 23, 2010

Preserving Time

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.

bottling golden queen peaches by ab2010

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. 

golden peaches-preserved by ab2010

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.

plum sauce by ab2010

5kg Damson plum, poached and stone removed
brown sugar, measured half the pulp (or if you want sweeter version of sauce, add more)
white sugar
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.

5kg plum 
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.


Anh said...

I hoope next yera will be better year for the crop, Arfi.

The jam and plum source look and sound good. I want a bottle of each ;)

Arwen from Hoglet K said...

That brown rot photo is so sad! I'm glad you managed to rescue some peaches, and your plum jam sounds wonderful.

Penny said...

Yes brown rot is SO disheartening. We sprayed with copper and it does seem to reduce it though not entirely. :( In the end we took out our peaches and now just stick with plums which seem to be better able to cope with the Auckland climate. The orchards near me are selling boxes of peaches cheaply so I've been bottling them. Yum!

Alessandra said...

Sorry about the brown rot...still, you seem to have made the most of it with what you had, and what spectacular photos!!!!!

I only have one peach tree, i just post it now!


sasasunakku said...

Like everyone else, I'm sorry to hear about the disappointment - what a tease to see them all looking so lovely and then shrivelling up literally before your eyes.
I wonder if you could core, stuff them with amaretti biscuits and bake if they are unripe like yours - perhaps you've tried it, it's a lovely and light dessert.

Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul said...

Sorry to hear about your stone fruits. The ones you've rescued look amazing Arfi. Preserving them is a great idea...and that jam looks sensational!

Happy Cook said...

I too hope next year it will be better. What i love the most is that dark sauce. Looks like you are bottleing delicous fruits to have all year around.

Cynthia said...

Your work inspires me.

Barbara said...

Arfi that is a shame about the brown rot. How disappointing. I miss your fruit pastes.

Nigel Olsen said...

It's been a crappy summer all round, especially after Christmas when here in Hawke's Bay we got nothing but rain! It's great for the farmers because we always run the risk of drought & clearly that wasn't going to be a problem, but anyone growing fruit got the rots quite bad. Our orchard was continually spraying for blackspot too, which blew out the budget. It'll come right next year, Arfi.