Monday, June 04, 2012

Plums: The squash of the fruit world

We have a nearly 30-year-old plum tree, a Morris plum, orchard tree of Texas. It was a gift from my neighbor's son in 1983. He owned a peach orchard and thought plums better suited for a household and planted two for us. One died not too many years later, but one has (obviously) held on.

This plum sits behind our back fence. At various times, it has been backed into, been hit by a trailer, had the fence blow down on it, and had a neighboring hackberry drop a large branch onto it. Its trunk is twisted and splayed. Last year it bloomed but produced no plums. We felt sure that last summer's unrelenting heat would be its death knell.

How little did we know.

At least for the time being, this little plum tree, with several dead branches and easy height of 15 feet at the topmost, is proving to be an exceptional producer this year. So far, I have gathered over 90 (NINETY!) pounds of plums from it. At the moment, the ones left are so high, I don't trust myself on a ladder and I certainly can't stand on any of the rickety branches!

My husband suggested I use the pecan picker we have, a reach and grab device that fitted naturally and wonderfully around the plums this morning. I did venture to the second step of the ladder and gathered 8 pounds. There are few insect problems and only an occasional bird beak intrusion.

However, that may be it. To go any higher will take two people, one holding the ladder. I know there is minimum of another 10 pounds of plums up there just beyond the reach of my "plum picker".

So what does one do with so many plums, this year's candidate for squash of the fruit world? (Around here people have such bumper crops of squash that they can't give them away fast enough, whereas peaches and tomatoes are rarely shared.) I've given away as many pounds as people can stand and I've frozen nearly 2 gallons of juice for future jelly. That's what I'll be doing this afternoon as well: wash, cut, boil, simmer, strain.



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