ry and smoky. That’s about it these days. Though, while others are lamenting the lack of rain, I’m using this time to get stuff done. Our fall can either be dry like this, or wet. I feel like I am on borrowed time for getting dry weather chores done. I’m still doing chores sans rubber boots. And it’s been warm enough to not build a fire, although it was frosty this morning at milking time.
One good thing about a dry fall is that there is a good chance that the Italian prunes will get ripe. That is if they happened to set fruit. I haven’t canned or dried prunes since 2009 according to my canning records, sometimes there is no fruit set, or like last year, the fall rains ruined the crop. I have been worrying about these prunes getting ripe since the trees blossomed. Time to quit worrying and to start working.
Italian prunes were a big crop in the Pacific Northwest. The premium drying prune/plum is not your grocery store dried prune. They are delicious. Tart and sweet and dry, not like the tasteless, moist packaged prunes. They also were a big crop in our town in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as attested to in this obituary from William W. Northway.
“In March 1890, Mr. Northway came to Portland and went into partnership with Lige Chamberlain at Corbett (then called Van’s Landing), on a fruit and hay ranch. In September they harvested a ton of prunes a day, dried and sold them for 12 cents a pound.“
A ton a day of prunes is a lot of prunes. We’re not anywhere close to that for harvesting. But we have quite a few, and it’s a good thing if they have to last to the next good harvest which may not be next year. So with that in mind, we’ve been gorging on fresh prunes besides freezing, drying, juicing and canning prunes.
Are you familiar with Italian prunes? Or do you have a different favorite plum cultivar in your area?