My mom, in her domestic wisdom, offers me this piece of advice about keeping a home: “Get your machines working for you!”
She means, get in the habit of throwing in a load of laundry and starting up the dishwasher first thing in the morning and throughout the day, let your machines work for you, and before you know it you’re caught up. Well, that’s the theory at least.
With apologies to those of you participating in the Riot for Austerity or other lower-your-energy-use challenges, lowered energy consumption just isn’t how I’m saving the world this month. No, this month I’m following mom’s advice and every single thing with a plug is being pushed into heavy use.
Especially the food dehydrators.
Sunday I harvested most of the fruit from two mature Italian Prune Plum trees (they came with the house). I pulled about 60 pounds of plums off the trees in an hour or so. It was a nice amount: enough to put up but not so much as to be totally overwhelming.
Since the plum harvest, my dehydrator and the borrowed dehydrator from my friend Fruit Lady have been running non-stop.
Prune plums have to be the easiest fruit to dry – they are made for it, literally. They are meaty, freestone and the perfect size to dehydrate when just sliced in half. We collected three boxes worth.
I worked one box at a time, dumping the fruit into a clean sink full of water.
With plums, I cut along the seam of the fruit but usually leave the two halves connected.
Some of the plums showed signs on insect damage. It looked like a little tunnel was made through the bottom of the plum and the flesh around that area was red and rough.
I just cut that part out. No problem, the rest of the fruit was great! The obsessive need for “perfection” in our food leads to a food-loss rate of something like 50% from farm to table. A bunch of that waste happen right on the farm when farmers throw out anything that doesn’t meet commercial appearance standards because people just won’t buy it. When you grow your own you can ignore that kind of silliness.
I place my plums cut-side down, but that’s just because they lay flat that way and therefore, I think dry more evenly. But I’m not sure it matters that much. I filled 12 trays with plums.
Tonight, the crock pot got into the show, cooking down some Chinese Plum Sauce for me while I (hopefully) get some sleep.
I’m using a recipe from Canning For A New Generation with ginger and star anise, but I’m trying a low-and-slow cooking method I’ve used with success in the past for various fruit butters.
Other flavors: onion, garlic, cinnamon, soy, rice vinegar and brown sugar.
So, yeah, I’d say I’ve got my machines working for me. Now to go start that dishwasher and washing machine….
What tools or appliances do you find indispensable for dealing with the harvest?