Here’s what I’m not doing right now: Reading the pretty amazing book I’m supposed to finish for my Thursday bookclub. Clearing the dining table. Laundry. The dishes.
Blame apples first — I’m trying my hand at Christine Ferber’s Green Apple Jelly stock because as it turns out there’s a tree full of mostly tiny green apples espaliered lazily over my garage and brimming with fruit.
And — my neighbors this weekend gave me the last of the most incredible fat, juicy plums I’ve ever had. Those need to be turned into something before they rot on my kitchen counter. I think they might be Mariposa plums, or possible Methley plums, but really I have no idea. They make a great jam, but as I’m curious about some of the other ideas in Elizabeth Lambert’ Ortiz’s apparently out-of-print preserving book, Clearly Delicious, — and am without the quince, guava or green plum standards she calls for — I’m using these fabulous red plums to make a variant on what Ortiz calls fruit cheese.
Sturdy Plum Castles
June Taylor makes wonderful sort-of-trompe l’oeil fruit pastes — she calls them cheeses too, because she’s British — that my son promptly agreed were fruit castles because of the mold they’d been shaped in. I’m not sure what sort of molds she uses I had a shot at shaped pastes with some aluminum jelly molds I picked up on eBay a couple of years ago.
Wash 2.75 kg plums and without chopping or pitting them cook them at a simmer with about a pint of water until they’re soft. When the plums have cooled slightly, press them and the water through a sieve to produce a fine, soft, watery pulp. This will take a very long time. If you have more brains, use a mouli or chinois that is not as fine-meshed as the large sieve I used. (The cooked plums produced 2.3 kg pulp.)
Weigh the liquid pulp. Warm the same amount of sugar and cook gently, stirring more frequently as the mixture thickens. This too will take a very long time. Many recipes call for cooking down until a wooden spoon drawn across the pan leaves a clean line; I cooked down around 90 minutes, until the mixture had turned a caramelized maroon and began spitting large bubbles across the entire surface.
Spoon into molds brushed with food-grade glycerin and leave to set in a warm, dry place.