RumpledElf

What do do with excess plums and figs?

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My plums are starting to ripen one tree at a time and my fig tree is looking like it will be dangerously laden this year. Plums ripen all at once - I have 4 trees, all different kinds of plums that look like they will ripen in sequence not all at exactly the same time - but figs ripen from the bottom of the branch up, so they are continuous picking for a few months.

No way in hell I can eat all of those fresh. So ...

what on earth do you do with a veritable cornucopia of plums and figs?

Oh and I have a pear tree too. I'm not a big fan of pears, but I have this pear tree ... doesn't look like it will have much fruit this year at least. THIS one is easier - pick, cook, freeze, use as baby food.

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My plums are starting to ripen one tree at a time and my fig tree is looking like it will be dangerously laden this year. Plums ripen all at once - I have 4 trees, all different kinds of plums that look like they will ripen in sequence not all at exactly the same time - but figs ripen from the bottom of the branch up, so they are continuous picking for a few months.

No way in hell I can eat all of those fresh. So ...

what on earth do you do with a veritable cornucopia of plums and figs?

Oh and I have a pear tree too. I'm not a big fan of pears, but I have this pear tree ... doesn't look like it will have much fruit this year at least. THIS one is easier - pick, cook, freeze, use as baby food.

Two words - Fowlers vacola.

Its cheap, easy and also apparently mildly addictive to do. Our kids eat a lot of preserved pears and peaches, they are tasty and healthy and they love them.

Figs can be dried (in the sun between two layers of fly wire) and so can plums, altho the result is a bit of an acquired taste. You can preserve the figs in sugar syrup (the kids call them pickled mice) and they are very good, vaguely coffee flavoured and great as a slightly special dessert.

Fruit leather is popular, too, but I find it vaguely annoying to make, altho I think it is easier if you can get ahold of one of those round fruit drying machines.

And of course there is jam - any thing can be made into jam by cooking it up to a pulp and then cooking the pulp with it's own weight in sugar until it gels. Stubborn fruit with low pectin levels may require some lemon juice.

I have recipes/experience with all of these, I can give more detailed recipes if you want. Or google them. It's all pretty easy, once you get the knack.

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W00t, things to google between the first and second trees ripening :)

Right now I'm losing all the plums on the low branches of the first tree. The Child has got all jealous that the baby has been eating all the "apples" and demanded her own stash.

The figs in sugar syrup sounds good. This fig tree was cut to the ground about 2 years ago - last year it was barely my height, this year it is easily twice my height and an absolute monster so we're going to get a much bigger crop this year. It needs to be removed (I have struck 4 cuttings from it as replacement - one is growing several inches per day), but that can wait until after it finishes fruiting. Figs are more important than driveways :)

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I'd go for making Plum wine although don't know how difficult that would be to do and what equipment you'd need to buy.

When I was a kid we made marrow wine by hanging a marrow in a stocking and adding sugar, yeast and waited for it to ferment. I believe it was some kind of prisoners recipe for bootleg alcohol.

The Plum wine would probably 'keep' for a while and would be good for presents and gifts with a fancy home made label, 'Chateau RumpledElf' and ribbon tied round the top.

Could also use the fruit as a fruit acid facial although your face may stain a nice aubergine colour.

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Chinese plum sauce

8 cups plums, pitted, halved (3 pounds/1.5 kg)

1 apple

4 fresh chillies

1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup water

1/4 cup soy (light)

1 teaspoon ginger, minced

2 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup rice vinegar or cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 star anise

1/2 teaspoon chinese five spice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon cloves

In large heavy saucepan, bring plums, onions, water, ginger and garlic to boil over medium heat; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until plums and onions are very tender, about 30 minutes.

Press through food mill or sieve and return to clean pan; stir in sugar, vinegar, coriander, salt, cinnamon, pepper and cloves. Bring to boil, stirring; reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture reaches consistency of applesauce, about 45 minutes.

Fill and seal jars; process in boiling water bath for 30 minutes.

Makes about 4 cups

The fowler ware brilliant for this too. Keeps for ages and great for spring roll sauce and chicken wings, duck etc. There is a great book put out by the Country womens association. "The CWA cookery book and household hints." Great for all things frugal. (All sorts of preserving techniques - even curing meats)

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W00t, things to google between the first and second trees ripening :)

Right now I'm losing all the plums on the low branches of the first tree. The Child has got all jealous that the baby has been eating all the "apples" and demanded her own stash.

The figs in sugar syrup sounds good. This fig tree was cut to the ground about 2 years ago - last year it was barely my height, this year it is easily twice my height and an absolute monster so we're going to get a much bigger crop this year. It needs to be removed (I have struck 4 cuttings from it as replacement - one is growing several inches per day), but that can wait until after it finishes fruiting. Figs are more important than driveways :)

Sorry it took a while to get back, been busy.

Figs in syrup.

First weigh your figs.

Put the figs in a big bowl and pour boiling water over them and let them soak for an hour. (If they are huge, cut a cross in the fat end, or cut them in half - this improves sugar penetration, but does not look as good).

Some people put a bit of bicarb in at this stage, but I don't know what it is supposed to do, so I don't.

Pour off the water and cover the figs with sugar equal to their original weight.

Let stand overnight.

Pour into a large saucepan and bring to a slow simmer. It's a good idea to use a simmer mat or a heat diffuser to reduce the chance of scorching.

Simmer the figs for a loooong time - the syrup will get thicker and turn a pale amber brown colour and the figs will eventually become translucent.

You will need to stir fairly regularly toward the end, to stop everything from burning to the bottom of the pan, but it is not as labour intensive as making jam.

When the figs are translucent (this is really important, because if they are not translucent the sugar has not penetrated, there is still too much moisture in them, and they will go bad) you can bottle them.

I generally just pour the boiling mix into very clean jars, put the metal lids on and invert the jars for a few minutes - the heat from the boiling syrup seems to kill any pathogens - but be aware that Reputable Sources prefer to heat-treat this type of preserves in a water bath for 20 minutes or so.

This looks like a lot of work but actually isn't, mostly it's just checking and stirring every so often.

The preserves taste very rich and exotic, and go very well with vanilla icecream, and/or coffee. They also last for literally years without deteriorating.

Are they green figs or brown figs, from your tree? The brown ones are often sweeter, in my experience.

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I'd go for making Plum wine although don't know how difficult that would be to do and what equipment you'd need to buy.

When I was a kid we made marrow wine by hanging a marrow in a stocking and adding sugar, yeast and waited for it to ferment. I believe it was some kind of prisoners recipe for bootleg alcohol.

The Plum wine would probably 'keep' for a while and would be good for presents and gifts with a fancy home made label, 'Chateau RumpledElf' and ribbon tied round the top.

Could also use the fruit as a fruit acid facial although your face may stain a nice aubergine colour.

My parents made a sort of (non-alcoholic) plum cordial, by cooking down the plums and straining off the juice and adding sugar. It was pinkish and with a strange thickish texture, even when mixed with water. But it was frugal. And they drank it. But I wouldn't recommend it.

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I've made 2 plum pies - the first turned out WAY too tart (still edible but The Child won't eat it) so we pretty much doubled the sugar for the second one. We're bracing for the second tree to ripen which has WAY more fruit than the first and is a different variety of plum.

Are they green figs or brown figs, from your tree? The brown ones are often sweeter, in my experience.

The poor tree that is pegged for slaughter if I ever get hold of the council guy gets lovely big purplish figs. They were very, very nice last year, which is why I took all those cuttings from the tree.

It is an extremely fast-growing tree with absolutely mammoth leaves, about 30-50cm across, and smooth brown stems. I have no idea what variety it is. There's other fig trees in the town with smaller fruit coming earlier than mine, leaves barely 20cm across, and knobbly white stems.

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...- If you know anybody with chickens, you could use the fruit as a lure...

Elaborate!

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Elaborate!

Create jam and invite friend over for fresh jam and scones.

Meanwhile, a trusted third party steals their chickens. Preferably this should be someone very fox-like and willing to chew on the chicken wire for added effect.

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Create jam and invite friend over for fresh jam and scones.

Meanwhile, a trusted third party steals their chickens. Preferably this should be someone very fox-like and willing to chew on the chicken wire for added effect.

Most! Awesome! Scheme! Ever!

I now must go and purchase a stylish hat that I may tip it to you!

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I think my first two plum trees are both ornamental, which would explain why the fruit is so tart and you need more sugar than plums to make them edible. The second tree is even sharper than the first and the birds are getting them before they are 'human ripe'. These two trees are also right where I want to stick a house and are going to get cut down, the other 3 (non-ornamental) are fine. The trees look totally different - the two ornamental ones have dark leaves and spectacular flowers and the other 3 look completely ordinary, but have much bigger fruit.

At the moment most of the plums off the second tree are going to the rabbit and the chickens. I'm not sure I want to know how tart jam would be from them ... and who would have thought rabbits eat plums?

Since the two plums have to go, I wonder if I could sell them on eBay or give them away on freecycle? There has to be someone out there who wants two very pretty smallish trees and is willing to dig them out :huh:

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Since the two plums have to go, I wonder if I could sell them on eBay or give them away on freecycle? There has to be someone out there who wants two very pretty smallish trees and is willing to dig them out :huh:

Definitely worth a try, 'advanced' trees are worth a fortune in the nurseries. But digging them up now would be a bit of a bugger, given the lack of rain recently. They are best dug during winter when they are dormant, so take a picture or two now so prospective purchasers can see what they are getting.

BTW if you have any edible plums/figs try sun-drying them, they would only take about 24 hrs given the current weather! Put the racks of halved fruit (old oven racks work well) on top of galvanised iron to act as reflector, don't forget mozzie netting or similar on top if you have an insect problem (not all places do) and don't forget to bring them in at night to prevent dew re-wetting them.

PS Rabbits are gourmets if given half a chance - try him on banana. Now how could they have evolved with a taste for banana?! We use ours as 'chicken alternates' -we have no chooks right now :( - and they polish off a lot of miscellaneous kitchen scraps.

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...PS Rabbits are gourmets if given half a chance - try him on banana. Now how could they have evolved with a taste for banana?! We use ours as 'chicken alternates' -we have no chooks right now :( - and they polish off a lot of miscellaneous kitchen scraps.

Same way that wallabies and turkeys have developed a taste for oranges!

And possums turn their noses up at bruised apricots!

Mollycoddlin' is wot dun it!

(side note, the wallaby has a baby, still in the pouch but the kookaburras baby came out for what looks like his first real flight today, he's not very good. The butcher birds baby has decided to be vegetarian I think as he has started going the seeds for the other birds, mum and dad do not appear to be taking this well)

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PS Rabbits are gourmets if given half a chance - try him on banana.

It gets mostly 'proper' rabbit food, weeds and kitchen vegetables - chooks get the more meaty scraps. I'm not expecting this rabbit to live much longer, it looks awful and you can feel every bone when you pat it.

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It gets mostly 'proper' rabbit food, weeds and kitchen vegetables - chooks get the more meaty scraps. I'm not expecting this rabbit to live much longer, it looks awful and you can feel every bone when you pat it.

Sorry to hear it. Sadly by the time they look sick they are usually goners. They seem to hide their illness if they can.

Our old matriarch is so fat she can hardly wash her face. (Rabbit females store their fat under their chins) She bosses everyone else around and always ends up with the good bits. ALL the good bits.

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This one sits under the plum trees in a hutch doing absolutely nothing all day. Child may or may not visit it for 30 seconds now and again and won't feed it more than once a week without major prompting. It is quite possibly the worst present (she was demanding a rabbit for ages) she has ever got. Her dad bought her the last remaining, almost mature rabbit from a pet store instead of a baby one so you can't even pick it up or play with it. I wouldn't wish its life on anyone. I'm not sure when she will be old enough to look after a pet and realise that animals have feelings like hunger and thirst even if she doesn't - maybe when she's 12 .. 15 ... 18?

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This one sits under the plum trees in a hutch doing absolutely nothing all day. Child may or may not visit it for 30 seconds now and again and won't feed it more than once a week without major prompting. It is quite possibly the worst present (she was demanding a rabbit for ages) she has ever got. Her dad bought her the last remaining, almost mature rabbit from a pet store instead of a baby one so you can't even pick it up or play with it. I wouldn't wish its life on anyone. I'm not sure when she will be old enough to look after a pet and realise that animals have feelings like hunger and thirst even if she doesn't - maybe when she's 12 .. 15 ... 18?

Have you thought about bringing the Child and the rabbit together?

A single rabbit will generally bloom into a totally different beast if you bring it into the house for a few weeks. ( Er, be warned - Individuals might eat clothes, books and/or electrical cabling ^_^ .) But if you can bring him/her/it in for a while, it will sit hunched and silent for a few days and then suddenly you will find it is supervising your shower, organising the fridge and setting up it's own email account. They get quite bossy and quite confident.

I've done this a few times now and it makes all the difference if you want them for a pet.

They also house train themselves really well, put some newspaper in a quiet corner, or just leave the shower recess accessible. Add a few old droppings and whatever you use to clean up the first puddle, let them sniff around there, and most rabbits get the hang of house training as fast as a cat does. Actually maybe faster.

This will solve the rabbit's problem. Children may take longer. Ours love the rabbits but need to be told to look after them each and every repetitive day...

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Have you thought about bringing the Child and the rabbit together?

We have a cat and a toddler. I don't think it would last 5 minutes inside. Toddler is *extremely* interested in the rabbit and spends ages climbing into the hutch with it, picking it up by the fluff, feeding it stuff, giving it toys and generally traumatising the poor thing. Cat is the vermin-catching sort - she's averaging 4 mice a day at the moment. Not a good combo. Cat is at least smart enough to avoid the toddler, and the chickens are firmly behind a fence so the worst that can happen to them is they get pummelled with chicken food over the fence and get splashed with water from errant water dish filling.

A rabbit or guinea pig is possibly the least appropriate pet for this household ... well, maybe after mice or birds :)

I would never have bought her a pet. She has a long track record of killing 'pet' insects and plants by neglect despite waxing lyrical about how much she 'loves' them. I think it is more a problem with the child than the rabbit. We've almost got the toddler trained to feed all the animals voluntarily because it is 'fun' and she's 2, so its not an age thing. Toddler knows what is bok bok food and what is bunny food and that water dishes shouldn't go dry. Child just hasn't realised yet (and may never realise) that living things need food, drink, shelter and positive attention. And if they are aquatic, they also need water and you can't just let their water evaporate and assume they are ok a month later when you notice the tank is empty.

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As one of life's ironies, I now have an over-supply of plums myself, thanks to a generous (or cunning) friend.

I should be doing something constructive with them, but all I can think of is jam, but between the heat and other commitments (like paid employment) I JUST DON'T BLOODY WANT TO.

I guess that makes me a bad frugal-arian... :(

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As one of life's ironies, I now have an over-supply of plums myself, thanks to a generous (or cunning) friend.

I should be doing something constructive with them, but all I can think of is jam, but between the heat and other commitments (like paid employment) I JUST DON'T BLOODY WANT TO.

I guess that makes me a bad frugal-arian... :(

Take em to work. (or some other distribution point) Label them free plums and leave some flyers with a jam recipe. Works every time. :)

Edited by staringclown

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Take em to work. (or some other distribution point) Label them free plums and leave some flyers with a jam recipe. Works every time. :)

Take em to a share house, Label them "mine do not touch" and put the in the fridge. Works every time.

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Mine that are ripe now you just can't eat so the birds have got them. Even the two small people won't eat them. Distribution points here are the supermarkets or the donut van. EVERYONE visits the donut van when it is open.

Watching the figs like a hawk though. Maybe they'll ripen faster if they are watched. Its going to be the last tree ripe and when it is done, we do some major deforestation of this house - terrible environmentalist, aren't I? But I have a small forest growing very nicely in pots to replace them.

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