“Ah season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” as Keats once trumpeted. Well, he certainly knew what he was talking about re the fruitfulness, but I don’t think he mentioned anything about the prolific sex-life of the common plum. We have two plum trees and, despite picking enough fruit to sink a ship or at least keep Mary Berry et al in plum cobbler for the next millennium, the trees are still as red as when I started de-fruiting them a couple of weeks ago. Which leads me to the only conclusion that they must be having sex when I’m not looking and reproducing like rabbits! I’ve spent precious Downton Abbey-watching-time picking, jamming, stewing, de-stoning, freezing, offering them to all and sundry and eating the little blighters, but more seem to pop up to take their place. So yesterday evening, after returning from the York Festival of Food and Drink (which was absolutely brilliant) I decided enough was enough. Armed with bucket(s), ladder and a shower-cap – my head itched for days after last week’s little foray into the boughs – I declared war. Woman-next-door didn’t realise I was up in the tree and could hear her complaining bitterly to man-next-door about the constant bombardment by the little red army onto her side of the fence. Four buckets later – I kid you not – I reckoned I was winning. With the freezer groaning from previous prisoners of war I decided on another option – bottling. I can recall to this day the Domestic Science (pre-runner of ‘Housecraft’ and long before the current ‘Food Technology’) ‘O’ Level exam paper question which asked me to “Explain the scientific principles underlying bottling …” but couldn’t for the life of me remember the answer. Googled ‘How to Bottle,’ was mystified even further by the fact that the Americans call it ‘canning’ (!!!?????) and, armed with the kilner jars given by Aunty Dorothy as a wedding present many moons ago, started the whole process. The kitchen looked like a war zone, bottles were boiling merrily in every pan available and those that I eventually decided to ‘bake’ in the oven rather than ‘bottle’ on the hob spilled over into the bottom of the oven. Nevertheless, I succeeded. I now have a larder – well a shelf in the utility – full of bottled plums.
This morning went into the garden to survey the plum trees. They’d been at it again!! See photographic evidence!!