When you have a home orchard, it’s impossible to predict which of your fruit will produce in abundance. There are so many variables; as the trees come into blossom the weather may threaten pollination; as the fruit ripens you are competing with birds and possums and again the weather leading to fungus diseases like brown rot. With the plums this year one very wiley possum is raiding the trees by night while the rosellas, blackbirds and thrushes are at it by day. The trick is to have enough trees so there is fruit for all. This cordial recipe is perfect for over-ripe fruit that has been damaged by the birds. I go each day and gather up the plums knocked to the ground by the birds and trim the bad bits off and use or freeze the good bits. I’ll be making plum sauce with the frozen ones at the end of summer when the days are cooler. You can use this cordial as a spritzer with some fizzy water or added to vodka or gin as a delicious summer cocktail. I’ve created this recipe out of different recipes taking what felt easy for me to achieve.
This time I used just over 2.3 kilos plums. Add to the preserving pan with 500mls water. Bring to the boil and smash the plums with a potato masher as they begin to cook. Cook at a medium heat for about 15 minutes until they are well pulped.
Pour them either into a jelly bag or as I did into a muslin cloth lined colander suspended over a large pot. First pop the cloth into boiling water for 5 minutes to sterilize. Now wait for all the juice to drip through into your pot. I waited 2 hours, some recipes say overnight but 2 hours was plenty of time. If you want a perfectly clear cordial don’t try to get the extra juice out by pressing the pulp down with a spatula as I did. I wasn’t fussed. Once enough juice has been extracted measure how many cups of juice you have. I had exactly 7 cups (1750mls) Return to the heat.
I measured the same amount of sugar i.e 7 cups and added to the pot of plum juice. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a simmer. Add 70mls of fresh lemon juice and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 2 tsp white vinegar. Transfer to clean bottles, lid and store in the fridge. They should keep refrigerated for at least 6 weeks. I wanted them to last a lot longer and in the pantry so bottled them using the water bath method. Seven minutes under boiling water. Remove from the heat and wait for the tops to pop.
Pink Gin anyone?