Over the decades we have made attempts to start fruit trees amidst gophers, deer, raccoons and an occasional bear. While our more recent efforts have met with some success, there are only three survivors from earlier campaigns.
One of those trees is a prune plum given to us by our good friends June and Bobby Vandergriff. If you could see this poor little specimen you would never believe it was twenty years old. The road-side of the tree gets severely pruned by the deer population every summer. The other half of the tree hangs over the fence guarding the vegetable garden.
Given the Vandergriff connection, I simply could not get rid of the tree when it continued to give tiny fruit that ripened in one day – ripened and fell on the ground in a 24-hour period. Once it hit the ground, the fruit was gone, carried off by a myriad of happy little critters who live in this neck of the woods.
This year I determined to grab the fruit before the local fauna had their prune plum party. We have been in a mode of using our untapped assets and this fruit fell in that category. I watched the tree daily, taste-testing for sweetness. These tiny plums have dense flesh with high sugar count when they are ripe. No wonder all the animals show up for the drop! This year we got the bulk of the harvest.
What do you do with tiny prune plums that cause human-types to turn up their noses? After all, the late peaches, figs, and grapes are in abundance at the same time as the prune harvest.
We made prune plum butter!
Actually, the process required little sweat equity. The boys picked the plums and brought them up to the house. That’s almost as much fun as finding Easter eggs, so it doesn’t count as work.
The only labor-intensive part is putting the cooked prunes through a sieve to get rid of the skins and pits. My brother was visiting and thought this looked fascinating so we did that together. It was fun. The sieve element wasn’t work either.
The long cooking was in the crock pot almost eliminating the possibility of burning the plum butter. An occasional stir was all that was necessary. Then, of course, it was necessary to do a taste test, or a couple of taste tests.
What follows is more a description of the process than it is an actual recipe. This process can be used with any fruit or berry that has great flavor but is a great nuisance with peel or seeds. In Delano we had a wild plum that produced tiny sour fruits and made the most amazing plum jam we’ve ever eaten. Whether you are growing prune plums, this little description could help you figure out what to do with some of your untapped assets.