Sunday, July 27, 2014

Prunus Americana

This is not the hand of a giant.
I bought a bundle of American plum trees from the state extension service a decade ago or so.  While they were mostly intended to make a hedge row, I figured at the time that any fruit would be a bonus.* While not a huge fan of plums, I had hit a clearance sale on them at Wally's the prior year and had made some at best marginal jam from them. So I looked forward to redeeming myself 7-10 years hence.

As you can tell from the picture, American plums are not the same plums you'll find on your grocer's shelves.  Prunus Americanas are little bitty things, the biggest about the size of a quarter. It takes a whole bunch of them to make a batch of anything.  But the good news is that they taste even better than the fat, juicy plums you get elsewhere. You just have to pick a lot more of them. Luckily for me I have a bumper crop this year, possibly because I prunused the crap out of them this spring in an attempt to keep them from hedging in my driveway.

That they are not as juicy as other fruits might limit their utility.  It's hard to make jelly without juice, but that's what we're going to try first - once I finally manage to pick enough to cook up a batch.**  Should that fail, we'll have to go back to the old standby: plum honey jam.

Even if it turns out that jam is their only use, they are still a worthwhile tree to add. I think the price I paid when I bought a bundle was on the order of a buck a tree if I bought 25.  They grow like crazy, though not always where you'd like.  They make a great hedge. They're hardy.   And even if I decide not to make anything out of them for myself, I suspect they will provide enough of a distraction to my bird population to keep them out of the grapes.

* You might be surprised at how effectively the first purpose defeats implementing the second.
** In the meantime, I have a cookie sheet in the deep freezer.  Anything that I'm going to cook but do not have enough of presently (tomatoes, grapes, blackberries) goes on the cookie sheet until frozen and then is added to freezer bags.  Grapes I put in there because I'm tired of being jumped by spiders while separating them.

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