Dried and Leathery

After the aerial assault on my nectarine tree the cockatoos scouted for other opportunities and soon found my neighbours’ plum tree. She also took drastic action and picked all the remaining fruit off the tree. Apart from sharing it with her family we also received two shopping bags full of extremely tasty plums. You may recall that we have already made apricot, strawberry and blackberry jam this season, along with nectarine chutney. Somehow the thought of more jam just wasn’t so appealing.

Thankfully I’d just read Christie over at Home Grown , another Grow Your Own entrant, who inspired us to make plum leather instead. Yummo, not to mention dead simple to make.The recipe details are on Christie’s 8 January 2010 post. You can see our before and after photos below that the colour change was quite dramatic.

In the excitement of going out for even more blackberries (another 3 kgs) on the weekend I didn’t check my nectarine tree until Monday morning when I discovered that about a third of the fruit had already fallen on the ground, making a lovely meals for my arch nemeses the slugs and slaters. While they were distracted I picked what was left on the tree, about 3 kgs worth. Ditto the above re jam. This time I decided to just dry the fruit. This is so simple and TB already had the dryer out (he made it himself after our commercial one died). All I needed to do was cut the fruit in half, remove the stone and place it on the racks. As we’d only just had a big rainstorm even the skin was clean. We don’t do anything to the fruit other than dry it.

Our new dryer is a large cedar box with racks that can take five large fly mesh trays. The heat source is one of those trusty old electric fry pans with a thermostat. Even after one day of drying we’ve had a fair bit of shrinkage. It will be a few days yet before we get to the fully dry version like last year’s crop. They may not be pretty but these dried nectarines are great in my muesli or used in slices and cakes.


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