I saw a t-shirt once that said, “Wine is proof that God loves us,” and while I’m not a believer, I did get quite a chuckle. When we moved to our property, we were excited to have fruit trees, specifically apple trees to make cider. Unfortunately, since the trees hadn’t been pruned in a decade, we didn’t get much fruit from the trees.
Not deterred, we pruned our apple and plum trees at the end of the season and waited for the next year. As a result, our harvest increased last year and we made delicious plum wine, plum cider and apple cider.
So far this year, we’ve had a bumper crop of plums, so we’ve started the process of making plum wine. We’ve pressed 60 pound of plums and have keep some of the pulp. We plan to put it in mesh bags and let it steep with the plum juice, water, sugar, tannins, yeasts and other ingredients to create plum wine.
But, why stop there? We have blackberries that are ripening in bushes around our property. I looked up a great recipe for blackberry wine last night. Even our Rainier cherries are ripening and will be ready to pick in the next month—they might make a delicious wine as well.
This year, I added black currants, a pomegranate tree and goji berries to my garden. They would all make excellent wine on their own or mixed with other fruit. At this rate, we’ll have to build a wine cellar.
Growing up I’d eat plums, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of them. The skin was always a bit bitter, the insides were a bit sour and they had a strange film on them (this was the 1980s before organic produce was in every grocery store). As I got older and tasted plum wine for the first time, I decided to give plums another try.
Every June, our plum trees burst with plums. Well, I should back up. The first year we were in our home, we picked about 10 pounds of plums from one tree alone (as in, it was the only tree that produced fruit). Our second tree produced 3 plums—not 3 pounds of plums; just 3 plums. We gave both trees a massive pruning at the end of the season and were rewarded with about 30 pounds of plums last year. This year, we’ve picked a whopping 64 pounds of plums and there’s still more on the tree!
Last year, we made plum wine and plum cider, as well as plum butter. This year, I made plum jam and we’re making plum wine. Since it was going to be a few days until we were going to make the plum wine, I took the plums that were very ripe or overripe and turned them into a plum jam.
I used this jam recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which uses Granny Smith apples and lemon in lieu of packaged pectin. I’ve found using Granny Smiths is a lot more forgiving than using packaged pectin, as you don’t have to keep your eyes on it all the time while stirring. You still have to stir with apples, but if you have to turn the stove down and deal with a crying baby or tend to a toddler, it’s not a big deal.