Sunny Slope Orchard

Sunny Slope Orchard
In the coast range foothills overlooking the Sacramento Valley

Monday, July 12, 2010

After the June Harvest Frenzy

June is the hectic month at Sunny Slope Orchard. In the midst of all the fruit frenzy, we enjoy seeing you and sharing the delicious harvest. But there is little time for extended conversation when the trees are raining fruit upon us relentlessly. So now that July has arrived, we are starting this blog as a way to connect more often throughout the year.

This past week has involved a lot of cleanup. The peaches and apricots finished in late June, and the last of the plums and first crop of figs were harvested this weekend. The ever-popular bird scare machines are stored away, depriving passing motorists of amusement. The orchard floor is clean now; all the dropped fruit is picked up and the foxtails mowed again (hopefully for the last time this season.)

We eat what we grow, so food preservation is our next priority. During the harvest we dried, canned, and froze as much as we could for home use; this will continue all summer until our shelves and freezers are full enough. Some of you have inspired us with your recipes and ideas for using our fruit. Keep it up and consider posting your recipe ideas on this blog.

For cooks and canners, here are two simple recipes that use our luscious California crops:

Santa Rosa Plum Compote

Drunken Fig Jam 

Freezing fruit is very simple and preserves the fresh taste. Frozen apricots make wonderful apricot pie for Thanksgiving or the primo ingredient for jam-making in December. Simply cut the quantity of fruit you need for your recipe and freeze it in a Zip-Loc type bag, being sure to evacuate all air. Or, if you have a FoodSaver machine, you can freeze fruit into convenient shapes in a Tupperware-type container; when it has frozen solid, pop the frozen fruit “brick” out of the plastic container. Place it in the FoodSaver bag, and let the machine suck out the air and seal it. These golden bricks stacked in your freezer will be your culinary Fort Knox.

In summer, sorbets are a most refreshing treat. Here on the farm, we get a lot of culled fruit, fruit that is overripe, bird-pecked, sunburned, or scarred. We freeze juice from the plum culls to make sorbet. To juice plums, let them get very ripe, then squeeze them in your fist, discarding the pits. They squirt in all directions, so do this outside and put your squeezing hand down into a tall, deep cooking pot to catch all the juice. Bits of plum skin and chunks of plum flesh add to the taste and texture, so there is no need to strain the juice. Freeze the juice in the same way as described above for apricots.

Favorite Plum Sorbet recipe:

  • 3 cups plum juice
  • 1 cup sugar or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. Vodka (which prevents the sorbet from freezing too hard)
Mix the above together then refrigerate until the mix is at 40°F. Process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

1 comment:

  1. Sunday I made up several quarts of the Santa Rosa Plum Compote using Fern and Bill's organic,and dead-ripe plums. The concoction is heavenly--even to me who ranks plums as a "least favorite fruit." I am now an enthusiastic convert (though I will still turn up my nose at the rock-hard plums in the grocery store...) L.B.