Ameixas pequenas tipo Faz Gostos
I found these gorgeous red plums on Dona Isabel´s stall in the market.I was looking for damsons to make jam. I had seen damsons in previous years but hadn´t been able to source them this year, so I thought I would try and see if these would make a suitable alternative. What genus of plum these were I was not sure.They were certainly ameixa pequena (small plums)but could they be ameixa de damasco (apricot plums) as they were yellow fleshed.Dona Isabel told me they were ameixa Faz Gostos which did not really mean much to me. I supposed it was like the difference between English varietals Victoria and Early river plums.I came home, got the preserving pan out and set to work stoning them.I had difficulty getting them to reach setting point so had to goad them on with the help of a little fructose.Not something I normally use but in this eventuality necessary.I stirred in a little shredded fresh ginger to pep it up a little and the result has proved popular with our most recent guests. Anyway it is good to experiment and have something a little different in the store cupboard but I look forward to making my beyond delicious plum and ginger jam... in the autumn.
I have just had great fun learning how to dry plums at home.Since I don't own a dehydrator I used my conventional oven to do the job.Besides the energy costs, which have to be seriously considered, there aren´t any other hindrances. On the contrary, it will be amazing to eat my homemade plums which look a lot more like big sized raisins than prunes.
My prunes are small, because my plums were small red ones, but they taste like the best prunes I have ever tried. They are sweet, tasty, soft and juicy and I selected the best plums to be dried. It is essential that the plums to be dried are ripe but not over ripe, washed and dried so the natural wax of the fruits is slightly removed.The dried prunes can be canned in sterilized jars and they can last, unfortunately not as long as jam but they can resist pretty well protected from humidity and heat.
Homemade Dried Plums
3 to 4 cups of perfectly ripe plums
1 dry and clean big sheet pan
Depending on the size of your plums you can either dry them on awire rack which is the optimum way as the air will circulate around them, but obviously if they are small they will fall through the rack so you will have to dry them flat.
Transfer plums to a baking try lined with parchment paper and let them dry in a previously heated oven at 80C for 12 hours. Check the fruits and if they are inflated with air make some holes on theirs skins with a tooth pick or a fork. Let them dry for another 12 hours and they will be dry but juicy and soft. If your plums are small and still haven´t reached the desired stage after 24 hours let them cook for another 6 hours checking every two hours to certify that they did not over dry. Transfer to sterilized jars and keep the jars in cool dry places. Alternatively they can be frozen in batches in ziploc bags.
Drying plums at home is an act of love and patience but you will be rewarded with the most sweet and tasty prunes you have ever tried. Good prunes require extremely good, sweet and ripe plums. Try eating your home made prunes with natural yogurt and a drizzle of honey.