Thursday, July 24, 2014

More Than Sand Plums

Even though the sand plum picking is still really good, I do have my garden to keep up with. It is producing tomatoes right now, but not much else. The peppers, squashes, and cantaloupe are blooming profusely, but there seems to be very little setting. The green beans are doing fine. I should have planted more. 

We finally built some raised beds this year. We had a perfect spot at the new house to put Them. We set paver blocks between the boxes so it is virtually weed free!  Love it!  I will have to plant a few things differently next year. Like moving the asparagus to a perennial bed and moving the squash to the north rnd to get more sun. It may take a few seasons to get all the links worked out. 

My own little piece of Eden (just go with it)

Romas

Sweet potatoes

Peppers and asparagus

Squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe, and spaghetti squash

Rescue tomatoes. They were almost dead so the nursery just gave them to us.  

Obligatory sand plum pic. The ones I picked yesterday are big as quarters. The biggest I've ever seen. They'll be great for cobbler!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Time for Some Italian


         

The first spaghetti squash came off today!  They haven't done well in the past few year so I am pretty excited!  Can you guess what's for lunch tomorrow?

More Sand Plums

Because 4 gallons of juice is not enough, I went this morning and picked another 20 pounds of sand plums. I will have to get a picture of this thicker we were in. So many plums and most you just can't get to. If you have never been in a sand plum thicket, you can't imagine. They have some thorns. Not little thorns like a blackberry but lung ones. Usually not very sharp but they do hurt if one pokes you. You just have to be careful. Long pants are a must.  They also grow thick. The trees themselves are never ver big but you may have 5 growing in one square foot. Tough to maneuver in.  Bug spray is also a must.  Ticks, Mosquitos, flies, and chiggers. These are not a few of my favorite things.  You are walking through tall Johnson grass usually. Most of the trees I pick from are at the local park. They tend to be right on the walking trails. But the best plums are always out in the middle if fields. No one wants to go there after all. Almost no one at least. This morning we did. My friend and I picked close to 10 gallons of plums. She had only picked a few along her road before today. She was excited to get so many. We will be making jelly for her tomorrow. 

Si, even with all the juice and pulp I already have, I may just keep picking until they are gone. The drinks I made go quickly. I may need more than 4 gallons if juice. 

We're gonna need a bigger bucket!  

Sinkful


Beautifully red juice with this batch!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sand Plum Fruit Leather

As you have seen already, I have a lot of plum juice.  4 gallons right now to be exact.  That leaves a lot of pulp behind.  Since sand plums are so tart, I wouldn't advise just using the pulp.  I have used honey and raw sugar both.  I would guess that you could use stevia or any other sweetener that you like.

My dehydrator didn't come with a fruit leather insert and the oven is not a good option in this July heat, so I needed an alternative.  Butter bowl lids!  Actually, I used the lids that came with my Pyrex custard cups, but any similar lid will work.

Sand Plum Fruit Leather

4 cups sand plum pulp
1 cup honey or sugar (or equivalent sweetener of choice)

Stir together and dehydrate in oven or dehydrator. (I once again assume that you know how to do this part.)  Dehydrate until fully dry.  This usually takes about 24 hours in my dehydrator.  They are stickier than most fruit leathers.  I'm guessing the sugar is why.  We like both the honey and  the sugar recipes.

These are still fairly tart, so feel free to add more sweetener.  We are looking forward to taking these hiking, provided they aren't all one before that!

For every pound of sand plum you have add 3/4 cup of water to make the juice.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook about 20 minutes.
Keep an eye on it while bringing to a boil.  It will boil over quickly.  Don't ask how I know, just trust me

Ready to strain

You can see the juice here.  You can ladle through a strainer or just dump everything in at once.  Let is sit for about 30 minutes if you just want to dump it.  use cheese cloth or a jelly bag if you want very clear juice.

Here is your leftover pulp, seeds, and skins.

I mash a couple of cups at a time.  The seeds will clog up the holes in this kind of masher, but that makes a nice solid surface to mash with.  Don't bother trying to keep them out.

From approximately 7 pounds of plum I got 4 cups of pulp and juice.

So I tried it in the oven first.  It was too thick and got too hot in the house, so I took it out and cut it into strips while on the plastic wrap still.  Below is how it looked when I put it in the dehydrator.  A bit like Sizzlean.

Put it on wax paper and either layer it or roll it up and place in baggies.


Here it is on the butter bowl lids.

Even though this doesn't put off near the heat as the oven, it is portable and I have electricity on the back patio.  Enough heat is generated to keep the bugs out.  Plus I don't have to listen to the fan blowing all day long!

Finished product

Peeled off easily.  They are also the perfect size and I don't have to cut them apart. 

Stack or roll.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sand Plum Electrolyte Drink

Besides picking sand plums, we have been doing a lot of work in the yard. It is July and we're inOklahoma. You are going to sweat. I figured a good, homemade electrolyte drink would be nice. I also thought sand plums might add to it a little. This turned out to be very tasty. 

Sand Plum Electrolyte Fizz

11/2 cups sand plum juice
1 cup coconut water
3/4 cup simple syrup or 1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup lime juice
10 ounces tonic water
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger

To keep the ginger from clumping mix it in a couple of tablespoons of the liquid and then add to the rest of the drink. 
Chill and serve over ice!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Sand Plum and Lime Refresher

I have about 3 gallons of sand plum juice in my pantry. A person can really only eat so much jelly in a year. Dilemma? Maybe. But I found at least one solution. Make a drink out of it.

Sand Plum Lime Refresher

1 1/2 cups plum juice
1 cup simple syrup
5 limes juiced
16 ounces ginger ale

Mix in a pitcher and chill. Serve over ice



For the adults you can add a shot of gin or vodka to their glass.  

This is tart like a limeade but really refreshing on a 100 degree day in Oklahoma. 

Plum Crazy

So here I go with the first of several posts about sand plums. First, just what is a sand plum?  It is a small,cherry-sized plum that grows wild (ditches are a good place to find them) all over Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and many other places. They are incredibly tart, even when ripe. Because of that you can pick them in just about any stage of ripeness for use in these eecipes. When fully ripe they are a derp but bright red. The more ripe plums you have the darker red your juice willl be. 

Jelly, jam, and butter seem to be the only things people make with the plums. Since they are so small it is much easier to just make juice and then turn that into jelly and then mash them througj a strainer to get the pulp fpr butter. Here is how you make the juice:

Wash and stem your plums. If you find worm holes you can cut them out or just toss them. They can be quite common or you may only find a few. For every pound iof plums you have add 3/4 cup of water to a large stock pot. Add the plums and bring to a boil. They will boil over so have a large pot and keep an eye on it. Once to a boil let simmer for about 20 minutes. You can remove the juice in a couple of different ways. 1) Line a strainer with cheese cloth or pour through a jelly bag. (This is only important if you want very clear jelly.). 2) don't line the strainer.  3) press a ladle into the plums and juice and then pour that through the strainer.  Once most of the juice is poured off, you can process it in a boiling water bath (10 minutes for pints and 15 for quarts). I am goin to assume that you know how to do that part.  At this time you can also make jelly. Use your favorite plum recipe. It will be tart but it is delicious. 
Juice

Now, what about all those seeds and pulp in your strainer?  Working with just a couple of cups at a time, take a potato masher and mash the pulp throu the strainer into a bowl. Then you can freeze it, turn it into butter, or make fruit leather.
seeds and pulp
Afterashing
Pulp

What if you want a cobbler or crisp?  Well, be ready to do a lot of pitting. These little suckers can be hard to pit. If too ripe they just smash through the pitter, a little under ripe and you will need a large green super hero to help you out. It will take about 3 1/2 pounds of plums to get 2 pounds of pitted plums for an 8-9 inch cobbler or crisp. 

Over the next few posts I will put up some recipes that I have experimented with. Hope you like them.