Monday, 31 August 2009
So I got round to pickling Sophie's plums yesterday and, yes, that does mean pickling in vinegar! I've not tasted them yet as I'm giving them time to mature (see Just a Quick Boast) but this is how I made them, based firmly on a recipe in Marguerite Patten's book Jams, Preserves and Chutneys. It works best with slightly under-ripe fruit.
2.25kg sweet plums
1.5 litres white wine or cider vinegar
1.7 kilos sugar
1 vanilla pod
Put the spices in the vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes. Take out the cloves but leave the vanilla pod in and allow the vinegar to cool. Once cool remove the vanilla pod, add the plums and cook gently til they are softened but still whole. Lift out of the vinegar and drain well then pack into sterilized jars. At this stage I allowed the fruit to settle a little then drained more vinegar by tipping the jars up while holding the fruit back with a spoon.
Add the sugar to the vinegar in the pan and heat until the sugar dissolves then boil steadily til a syrup like consistency is reached. Pour the hot vinegar over the fruit and seal the jars.
How long to leave them to mature is a moot point. Marguerite suggests 2 months but last year I found this wasn't enough. I re-tasted last year's fruit a couple of days ago, at 10 months old they were delicious - so somewhere between 2 and 10 months! Think I'll keep tasting at intervals and will report back on the optimal maturation period. I'm dedicated to my work : )
If anyone out there is experienced in pickling fruit I'd love to hear your tips and hints. I'm finding I'm left with huge amounts of syrup at the end, does this mean I'm doing something wrong? I'm wondering if too much vinegar is getting in at the draining stage leaving less space for syrup and maybe this has something to do with a long maturing stage too? Any advice gratefully received!