We love Cockney rhyming slang in the Fothergill household. It has the right balance of interesting literary tradition, hilarity and obscurity… in other words we’re a bunch of ridiculous eccentrics to try constantly to out-weird one another. So when I came to write up a post about chutney, I thought hmm, chutney, I bet that’s Cockney rhyming slang for something… and so on. Apparently ‘chutney moon’ could be a spoon – I’m not claiming this is from a valid source though, I just liked the sound of it. And I dread to think what plum might be Cockney for.
So anyway, it was time to test out the Rollright area for its foraging possibilities! It is actually fairly early in the fruit season really… but the apple tree was growing rather heavy in our front garden, and I’m an addict of cheese & chutney (give me that over chocolate anytime! I know… what a weirdo!). By the way, the sausages at the top of that picture have nothing to do with anything in the recipe. Just so you know.
So I collected some wild plums from the fields, and apples from our tree, and sage from the garden for this recipe. I’m no expert at such things, but here are a few pointers…
Tips on Wild Fruit Picking
1. Know what you’re looking for… I know this is obvious. But make sure you know your red plums from your juicy superpoisonberries.
2. Try to pick them away from a road. I always think they’ll be fresher. Fruit seems to ripen quicker next to roads & railways… I take this as evidence that the exhaust fumes are speeding up their growth. Yum!
3. Ripeness… this is tricky. But this is my most important point when it comes to plums… there are several wild varieties that tend to grow together. The red ones are the sweetest. However, don’t write off green or yellow plums altogether, they’re actually not unripened red ones, they’re a whole variety of their own. So ripeness is less down to colour and more to the size and softness of your plum… you get the idea. I tend to put different colours in different bags and you can make different colour jams!
4. Choose them carefully and one-by-one… my brother found this fantastic technique of hanging an upside-down umbrella to the tree and shaking it. However half of the contents were earwigs, half plums. Yuuum.
Enough blathering. The recipe. It’s easy, just put by a lot of time for chopping.
Recipe: Apple, Plum & Onion Relish
(from ‘Jams & Chutneys’ by Thane Prince)
1. In a food processor or with mortar & pestle, crush 5 garlic cloves, 10cm piece of fresh ginger and 2 green chillies (deseeded if preferred) into a paste.
2. Put this along with 1kg (peeled, cored & chopped) cooking apples, 675g sweet onions* (peeled & chopped), 500g plums (stoned & chopped), 360ml cider vinegal, 300g granulated sugar, 1 tbsp salt into a large pan and bring to the boil stirring until sugar has dissolved.
3. Simmer on a low heat for 40mins (until reduced & thick), stir in 2 tbsp fresh chopped sage and simmer a few mins until it reaches desired consistency.
4. Pour into hot, sterilized jars with vinegar-proof seals (the orange, rubbery circle that comes with large jars).