This year has been a bumper harvest of my little Victoria plum tree, the one that is happy to grow in our north facing blip of a garden, in the heaviest clay soil you'll ever have seen.
Last year there were 14 plums. This year... Too many to count. So what to do with them all? Well, while I consider, I harvest as they get ripe, halve them and put them in small freezer bags to keep my options open. I like plum cake, and the portion size is sufficient for a nice big cake.
But I think we may have more than we need for cake, so this year I'm planning to dig out a nice German recipe for Pflaumenmus (plum compote.. well sort of, it doesn't translate well, I've seen it translated as plum cheese, but there's nothing cheesy about it). In fact, there's plenty of German plum recipes, I'm sure plum/damson cake is omnipresent in German bakeries, with the fair accompaniment of wasps who seem to like plums as much as we do.
Plum compote is a bit like jam, just with less sugar and longer boiling at lower temperature, and the addition of spices which make it perfect for winter days.
3 kg plums
500 g jam sugar
1 unwaxed lemon, cut the rind into strips
2 cinnamon sticks
ground ginger, cloves or all spice to taste
Wash, halve and remove stones. Put into a casserole dish and sprinkle with spices (cinnamon, cloves etc). Add sugar and stir. Put into preheated oven at 175 degrees C for at least 1.5 hours (stir after every half hour), and put a wooden spoon in the oven door to allow the water to evaporate. The mousse is done when the plums have disintegrated, the water evaporated and the compote is nice and dark. You may need to extend the time in the oven up to 2.5 hours. Fill into sterilised jars and close.
(How to sterilise jars: wash them in hot water, and put the wet jars into the oven for 15 minutes at about 100-150 degrees. You can also boil them in a large saucepan for 10 minutes, or use a baby bottle steriliser if you have one. Sterilising reduces the likelihood of mould developing).
You can use the mouse just like jam, or bake with it or...