Preserving Wild Plums

Wild American plums!

Contrary to what we've been taught in "American History," our continent was not the land of milk and honey. The reason the native peoples were conquered so easily is because our land did not hold a large assortment of plants and animals that could be domesticated. There were wild foods, but none that provided easily, domesticated calories that could support large settled societies capable of writing, creating large cities that create disease/immunity, and excess food supplies to maintain armies and specialists (including metal workers.)

So as I travel the northern part of the United States looking at our "foraging" resources, it's easy to see why the natives were nomadic and how little calories they were able to obtain from the wild. Of course, they had fewer people and more wild animals, but many of their fruit, nut, and vegetable options were the same as we have today (but of course without the foreign species that we currently rely on.)

Of those wild plants, so many of them either taste horrible or require extensive processing to be worthwhile. 

Not so with the wild plum!

These little babies are delicious! They are sweet and juicy. They are pretty small but the plants are prolific. The fruit to pit ratio is also pretty reasonable. 

They have just a hint of sour, but since I live in the north where everything native is sour (or bitter) I can barely taste it.

They are great fresh, dried, sauced, baked into desserts, or made into jam.

I did all of the above.

The first step is to cut out the pit. That's easy to do and if they are super ripe, you can just squeeze it out.

I "saved' all the pits and planted them all in various locations....
I  froze a few bags of fruit for use in cakes and muffins.
I froze some as a puree for smoothies....
We saved a bunch for fresh eating.
I turned a bunch of them into sauce and jam. It was so easy. You do not need pectin or lemon juice. Just sugar and plums. I pitted and mashed them.
Then removed the skins with a foley mill.
I  made 6+ half pints of jam. One jar went to a friend and one went in the fridge for eating right away.

I even made "prunes" or more accurately, "dried plums."

They do not look like prunes from the store. They are orangy/pink and a little tart. But I like them and actually prefer to preserve large quantities this way because it is not dependent on electricity and doesn't add a ton of sugar to our diet.

The fruit leather is a beautiful pink. This is just plums and a little sugar. I like them tart (as they would be without the sugar) but they are good both ways. You can use much less sugar than you would for a jam because  you are not needing the sugar for preservation.

No matter how you slice it, these plums are the bomb. I really like them and I hope all the seeds I planted germinate and most of them grow up to be full bearing trees! Of course... plum trees tend to sucker and they could eventually be regarded as a menace by other "neat and orderly" type people. But they are delicious and provide good, native food to humans and wildlife.

They are one native food that actually tastes good! I have tried over 30 wild and native plants this year. I have planted many of them. Some are okay. Some are okay only in a survival scenario. Some would be a struggle even in a starvation situation, and some like the plums just rock.

I have found 2 types of wild plum. Little purple ones and the little orange ones seen above. I found the skin of the purple ones to be sort of bitter. I prefer the orange ones. If you find them, give them a try!

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