Wednesday, 10 September 2014

What I Did With all Those Plums

This year we've had a bumper crop of plums; I told you about picking them here and here. 
As well as just enjoying them the way they came off the tree (washed first of course!), I spent a lot of time stoning plums and making various plum dishes so we could preserve all the fruit. Some of the fruit was stewed and stored in the freezer and some was just frozen uncooked but with the stones removed.
This simple dish below is made by lining a baking tin with puff pastry, laying plum halves on top, sprinkling with a bit of demerara sugar and then baking. I can't remember for sure now, but I think I made four of these.

Quite a lot of honeyed plums were also made. It's amazing how many plums it takes to fill a jar once they've been softened gently.

Plum crumble is a must-make.

Last, but not least, I made plum sponge. This is really a pudding rather than a cake. First I layered plum halves in a deep Pyrex dish, sprinkling some sugar between the layers. I then used a recipe that makes a very light sponge and poured it over the plums. Some of the sponge mixture made its way between the plums but most of it stayed on top. The pudding was baked until the sponge was golden, enough time to soften the plums below. This was a good way to use up a lot of our own eggs as well as plums!

Here are some of the eggs we've been lifting lately. The one on the left is a normal sized hen's egg laid by one of the older hens. The one on the right was laid by one of our new hens that have just started laying. The one at the front must be the first ever egg laid by one of the new hens! Look how tiny it is. But it had a yolk and I was able to use it!

There are many sponge recipes around so just use whatever is your favourite if you want to make this pudding. And I'm sure any sort of soft fruit - or even apples cut into small chunks - would work just as well as the plums.

I'm not quite sure how many crumbles and sponges I made; three of each, I think. But there aren't that many now as we've been eating our way steadily through them. The Aga really comes into its own for this sort of cooking or baking. It's only since moving to this house that I have got an Aga but I would hate to have to go back to a normal cooker again.

September is proving to be a lovely month so far. The early morning skies are beautiful, there are mists, there are bountiful crops and the swallows are still swooping around, preparing to leave us.

No-one sums up this time of year better than John Keats in his poem Ode to Autumn.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
I love that poem. All the best for now and thanks for all your lovely comments. It really makes my day to read them.


  1. Your plum creations all look beautiful. I'm so glad you're able to use them up. I really love using my own fruits where I can. Thanks for sharing this beautiful poem, I love it too.

  2. That is a beautiful poem, and you're right, it does indeed sum it up perfectly. Ooh those plummy creations all look so yummy, but crumble of any nature is always my favourite - especially topped with lashings of custard too!

  3. Hi Gillian! I never heard of plum sponge, but what a great idea! :) Lovely photos, as always! This is really a lovely time of the year, coming to think of it, plentiful produce and warm days, fantastic! Let's hope we can enjoy it for just a bit longer!!! Great poem! Thanks for sharing!!
    Ingrid xx

  4. All those plums - so great. And your plum treats are lovely. People don't grow them around here. We never see them at farmers markets, only at the grocery stores. We must a bit too cold up here in Wisconsin. At any rate, it's so great that yours do well. Plums are delicious.

    Lovely photos, too. Yummy!

  5. I never thought that hens would start by laying small eggs! Of course, now you say it, it makes sense because then they can start small and stretch bigger (gulp).
    I love all the plum love going on here and, yes the Aga is built for this time of year. It's on my dream list. Someday.

  6. Yeay another Co Down blogger! Glad to find you and am looking forward to reading more. I'm an Aga cook too! Am so very envious of your plum harvest - we had a marvellous Victoria tree at our last home but none now and no room for one. Sad to say our "moss'd cottage tree" is bramley-less this year thanks to a wee issue over pruning so you can guess how envious I am of your home produce. We managed courgettes and tomatoes only this year.

  7. Your plums look delicious!
    Have a nice day!

  8. Hi Gillian, your plum dishes look awfully good! It reminds me that I have to prepare dinner. I shouldn't read posts about so deliciously looking food when feeling gnawing hunger. Happy evening! Viola

  9. All of your plum makes look so delicious. Enjoy.

  10. It all looks fantastic. It must feel so satisfying to make all this now and then stash it away in your freezer for the coming winter. x


Thank you for leaving a comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this and I read them all. I will try to reply as soon as possible to any comment that needs a reply.