Plum Tyranny – but Great

Thursday 3rd October 2019

I had to drop everything and get boiling. Robert Nevil telephoned at 3. He was just back from the Middle West. The damsons must be collected at once. A great weight had been lugged back by hand, luckily with youthful help, a friend from Delhi, of course, good with horses and dogs and able to carry things, including damsons. ¬†One doesn’t want to stereotype but Indians known to Robert Nevil from other parts of India, have not been inclined to carry anything. I don’t know if there are certain parts of India more prone to carrying than others, just as certain nations of the East and Central of Europe lead the way in cleaning proficiency but others lag behind.

But it was a desperate struggle. Joshua Baring also is crazy for the rare plum. How was he to escape from editorial matters to get his quota in time? He was trapped in a way that Diana Vreeland surely never was in the editorial situation. I don’t think he’s even got a private office, where he can have flowers. It’s open-plan and you can be sued at any minute for a chance remark. Offence might be taken, even though he’s in the Diana Vreeland position. How dare they?

The damsons needed to be plunged at once, they were that squashy. I’ve been away in Italy, unable to attend to the picking as usual. The yearly ritual couldn’t take place. The damsons had hung on the tree, only just clinging.

I dashed to Robert Nevil’s and dashed away again with a sloppy bagful. Home and straight into jam work plus boiling for puree. Not enough sugar of course, so out the shops, then the hours of picking out the stones. In Italy Aunt Lavinia mentioned several times whenever the subject of damsons came up, as it often did because at this time of year everybody in a certain position is thinking of them even when touring in Italy – Aunt Lavinia said that when she had made damson jam she hadn’t taken out the stones. She was quite determined about it. Seemed to think it was a definite position to take, almost certainly the right one. I was reminded of the fridge magnet she spoke of proclaiming: ‘A Clean House is a Wasted Life.’ ‘But I spend six hours a day cleaning, Aunt Lavinia,’ I said. I once had some damson jam with the stones in, not hers. You got a rattly rocky lump on your bread.

Damsons are tiny and every one has a stone, which is probably why they’re not universal but rare. Anyway I boiled away and skimmed out the stones. Hours and hours. Val said all his stones came to the top and were easy to remove. His greengrocer had given him a method, involving a bit of butter put in. This year the same greengrocer had got him a box specially but Val hadn’t got round to them in time and they’d gone vinous. He can’t face the greengrocer now. I think he’ll have to lie.

So finally finally I had that row of cooling pots so satisfying to the jam maker and a vat for sieving for puree the next day.

Thank goodness the damsons weren’t missed this year.

My Vat Boiling

My Vat Boiling

The Vat Advanced

The Vat Advanced

My Final Pots

My Final Pots

 

 

 

Posted Thursday, October 3, 2019 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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