So, I guess it isn't surprising that when I grew up, I married a man who is likewise inclined.
An old wash tub, a garbage disposal unit, a chunk of PVC, some lengths of lumber, a light switch (that gave me more than one mild electrical jolt when I touched it) and the homemade press was ready to go.
It works like this: the fruit is cut in half and tossed into the washbasin, where it is pushed down the drain to be ground into pulp by the garbage disposal unit. Then the pulp is pressed in a hand-cranked timber-built scissor press, from which the cider flows out.
We pressed a couple carboys-full for hard cider, and pasteurized several gallons of juice for storage which we canned in half-gallon jars.
Then we had to figure out how to best put up so many plums.
Nathan set to work making plum wine, which is bubbling along nicely in its carboy. We hope that it tastes as pretty as it looks.
Super simple and so good: Wash the plums, cut them in half vertically and remove pits, then spread cut-side up on the racks of a food dehydrator. Dehydrate at 135F or 60C for 12 - 36 hours until they are leathery but not brittle. If you don't have a food dehydrator, you can spread the plums over parchment paper on a cookie sheet and place in your oven on its lowest temperature setting for about 6 hours. Open the oven door from time to time to release moisture.
Let the plums cure in open air for a couple of days, then store in an air-tight container.
But as I stood in the kitchen canning pears for what felt like the 100th time (no complaints, truly.), I was struck with inspiration and gathered all the blooms I could to make rose jelly. This way the magical fragrance of our roses would last all year, and could be eaten heartily to chase away the winter blues. Or, perhaps more appropriately for the pacific northwest: the winter 'greys'.
When we reach for a jar of jam this winter, we'll have to choose between: peach, peach with cardamom & cinnamon, pear, pear with ginger, pear with rose essence, rose, raspberry, plum, blackberry, or fig with honey.
Until next time,
Nathan & Rebbeckah