Archived in 2022

Originally posted on 08 Jul 2008

People tell me I’m pretty bright. Evenings like this really make me wonder why they say that…

It turns out that there are two plum trees in my backyard. While out there reading this evening I kept hearing, “Plop!” The plums were ripe and were plummeting all over my otherwise tidy yard. They were red. They were squishy. They were going to attract flies and bees and raccoons and that just wasn’t going to work for me. I retrieved a bowl and started collecting all the plopped plums and dumping them into the green bin. On my fourth bowl full I finally realized that even if I did pick them all up my victory would be pyrrhic as the trees were loaded with more ammunition. Also, it seemed like a huge waste to be composting all of this fruit.

Twenty minutes later the trees were mostly bare and I’d filled two baskets and a large stainless steel bowl with freshly-picked plums, each about the diameter of a quarter. Remember that size. It becomes important…

OK, it’s now 7pm and I have twenty-three pounds of fruit sitting on my kitchen counter. “Uh, OK genius, what’re you gonna do now?” Think. Ponder. Skim some cookbooks… “A ha! I’m going to make plum wine!”

The recipe which follows is from an out of print book titled Homemade Country Wines, Beer, Mead and Metheglin (ISBN 0-600-34424-X):

  • 4 lbs plums
  • 1/4 oz root ginger
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 gallon water
  • 3 lbs sugar
  • yeast (the author used Pommard yeast and it produced a delicious pale-pink medium sweet wine and states that Burgundy yeast is also suitable)

Cut up the plums and remove the stones. Bruise the ginger and add to the plums with the cloves and sliced lemon. Pour over the water, boiling, and stir. Cover and leave for 3-4 days, stirring twice daily with a wooden spoon. Strain through 2 layers of butter muslin on to the sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and when the liquid is lukewarm add the previously-activated yeast. Pour into the fermentation jar and insert an airlock. Leave to ferment to a finish in a warm place. Syphon off into a storage jar and cork.

Four pounds of fruit? That won’t even put a dent in what I’ve collected. Plus all of my brewing gear is sized for five gallons. That would take…um…let’s try sixteen pounds of fruit. Maybe twenty. Yeah, why not?

OK, here’s why not: sixteen pounds of quarter-diameter plums? That’s a &%$@$^ lot of plums. Each one sliced in half and the pit dug out with a paring knife. It took 2.5 hours of standing to get through even that many and doing a full 20 lbs was out of the question. By the end of the first hour I’d started considering the possibility that perhaps I’d erred. By the end of the second hour I was positive I’d erred and was calling myself a series of colorful new names.

All the plums finally prepped I then had to boil four gallons of water. Ever do this? Yeah, well, it ain’t a quick process, even with both an electric and a stovetop kettle each running at full bore.

The end result of this evening’s toil is five gallons of steeping fruit, a very sore, tired and hubris-whipped person and a head full of doubt that this is going to work. If it doesn’t, well, live and learn. If it does then my culinary ego will probably take over for a while and I’ll be insufferable. You’re forewarned.

In the meantime, I still have seven more pounds of plums sitting untouched in the kitchen. Oy. I’m a moron.