August 17, 2016

Let´s talk Mirabelle plums! We harvested 18 kg this weekend and preserved them in various ways.

Mirabelles (I added a link as I have recently learned that they are banned in the US right up there with the Kinder Surprise Eggs and Hagis. Who would have thought?! )

These little plums the size of a yellow cherry taste divine!

Pitting them can be a bit of a chore, if you do it with a little knife like us. The stone comes out a bit easier if you cut a long the line shown in the picture.

And here comes a public service announcement: USE A STAINLESS STEEL KNIFE! If you do not you will have a reaction between the metal in your knife and the acid in your fruit and your fingers will look like mine for a week or longer....Or if you do use that old granny knife in your drawer, just because it happens to be the sharpest in there....well, make sure you are not meeting people for the next week, you´ll get some queer looks or be smart enough and wear gloves....!

Back to the Topic: I read online that if you have a cherry pitter you can use it, but I have not tried this and I believe it will only work if the Mirabelle plums are super ripe!

Every now and then you find a little added 'protein'! You better not be squeamish, as these move faster than you think!

Here are some of the recipes we made this weekend:

Mirabelle Jam
Prepare your jam jars! Either boil them and the lids separated (as in open jar) in a big saucepan full of water for a few minutes, or boil your kettle and fill up the jars and lids with boiling water and let stand for a few minutes. This is the method I have been using for decades now. I have never had a glas break on me while filling it up with the billing water, but I know that that is a fear for some. I once read that you need to do this on either a glas top or a wet towel to avoid this to happen. I have them stand on my ceramic hob which seems to work just fine. It also usually has spilled water on it, which probably helps here, too.

Then empty lids without touching the inside (I just use a big pair of BBQ tongs) and then fill one lid with Vodka. Pour the Vodka from one lid into the  next, until you have them all disinfected. And again without touching the inside! Once the last lid is disinfected I just pour the vodka into the boiling jam.

for 1 kg of pitted and halved fruit you will need
500 gr of gelling/jam Sugar (the one that has citric acid and pectin and you can use a 2:1 ratio of fruit:sugar)
and 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice (optional)
mix well and let stand for an hour in saucepan with lid (the sugar will drain some of the juice out of the fruit in this time) (if you are in a hurry you could also just add a little water or juice and start boiling immediately)
Bring to boil and let boil at full and while stirring for about 5 min. Then whizz the fruit mix until no 'lumps'. pour straight into jam jars (I use a wide mouthed funnel to help with the spillage) and screw the lid on tight, then turn them up side down and let cool in this position. Label and store cool (as in cellar)

I love my Jam with a bit of cream cheese instead of butter. A recipe for homemade cream cheese will follow soon.

Mirabelle & Blackberry Jam
prepare Jam jars as above
for 500gr of Mirabelles pitted and halved and 500 gr of Blackberries
add 500 gr of jam  sugar (see above)
1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice (optional)
 Proceed as above!

Mirabelle and Lemon Jelly 
This stuff is seriously good!

Prepare Jars as above!

Juice 3 kg of Mirabelles in whole just washed (I use one of those saucepans where you boil the fruit and the juice comes out of a nozzle at the bottom) but I am sure you could use a regular juicer too.

mushing the fruit with the potato masher helps speed things up

add the juice and Zest of 4 Lemons

200 ml of orange juice

Weigh the mix and
add half the amount in grams of jam sugar (in my case a little over a kilo of sugar)
also add 3 cinnamon sticks 
and 5 cloves
now boil until it thickens. Make sure your saucepan is big enough as the mix can get a bit foamy and bubbly when boiling. Fill in Jars and proceed as above!

Mirabelle Gin

Get big wide mouthed glas jar and prepare as above.

Wash 250 gr Mirabelles very well. Then pour some boiling water over them. Drain immediately.
Now layer the Mirabelles with
125 gr rock candy (if you use brown rock candy the gin will get brown!)
Stick half a stick of cinnamon in the middle and pour
Approximately 250 ml of gin over the mix.
The fruit should be well covered.

Screw lid on and shake well! Store in dark cool place for 4-6 weeks. Every time you pass give it a good shake. After this time you should be able to enjoy it. (obviously we haven´t tried our own yet as the mix is only four days old so far but we are very hopeful)

Canned Mirabelle halves

prepare jars as mentioned above

Wash Mirabelles very well, half and stone, fill in sterilised jars and prepare canning liquid.

canning liquid:
for 1 kg of fruit
use 300 gr of jam sugar (see above)
and 1 litre of water
add 1 cinnamon sticks
and a 1-2 cloves to taste.
Bring to boil and let simmer for a few minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves and pour hot over fruit. Immediately screw on lids. Put all your jars in a big water bath canner or in my case a huge saucepan and bring to boil. Boil for 30 min.

Let cool on a cooling rack and make sure all lids have popped inwardly. Otherwise they won't keep and can even be dangerous to consume (Botulism would be your biggest fear) if any of your jar lids, even after cooling down, did not have their lids plop inwards store in FRIDGE and consume immediately!

Mirabelle sauce

Prepare jars as above.

Wash and stone 3,5 kg of Mirabelles.
Add 1 tsp of ground cinnamon and
1 tsp of ground cloves.
Add 50 ml rum and
300 gr brown cane sugar (I prefer raw)
Mix well and let stand for a good hour. The Sugar will draw the juice out of the Mirabelles, this way you don´t have to add any extra liquid. After this bring to boil and boil on medium heat with no lid while stirring every few minutes, until there isn't too much liquid left (took me 2h). Whizz it into a homogene mass. Pour boiling hot into your prepared jars (funnels help reducing the mess! They also keep the rims of the jars clean) Close straight away and then boil in water bath as described above. Please check those lids before you stack them in your shelves.

Store your canned goodies cool and dark and before you store them wipe them all clean.
Before consuming any canned product you should check those lids again, and when opening them the first time you want to hear this hissing noise and a plop. this shows that there was a vacuum in the jar all the time you stored it!  Check for discolouration and signs of mould. Only then is it safe to eat! I only ever had a handful of jars turn mouldy, these would have been ones were I worked sloppy hygiene wise. Either not wiped clean enough or the rims of the glasses had spilled jam on them, here those funnels come in really handy!

We also halved, stoned and cleaned several kilos and just froze them. So if you have any more ideas let me know! Thank you for any input!

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