This month has been a magical one all around. It started with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Eid is the biggest festival in most Muslim communities and the convention center near my work was the site of a large prayer meeting. It was neat to see people from so many different backgrounds dressed in their Friday Finest walking to and from the morning prayers. The full moon this month coincided with the Autumn Equinox, a conjunction that hasn't happened in 19 years. It was a little cloudy the night of the full moon but both nights before and after I saw the enormous yellow moon rising above the trees. Jupiter also showed up, looking quite large because it is at the closest point in it's orbit to the Earth. Jupiter tends to bring wisdom, tolerance and plenty as well as a jovial, cheerful spirit - all trademarks of a good harvest season.
Photo by Paladin27.
This month was also a big month for me on a more personal level. My 30th birthday was just before the new moon and I have been celebrating for the entire month. I figure thirty days to celebrate thirty years is appropriate, right? I also had the wonderful opportunity to travel to the East Coast to visit two of my sisters. I spent a couple days with my little sister who is my best friend in the world, and a couple more days with my older sister and her family. It was great to see everyone and our conversations were deep and meaningful, when they weren't silly and lighthearted.
I have been thinking a lot lately about the harvests we can gather in from the seeds planted not only by our own selves, but by our family and ancestors before us. Its interesting to think that we can benefit, or be hindered, by things we didn't have any control over the beginning of. My aunt once reminded me of the ancient wisdom of the seventh generation. Every action reverberates through at least that many generations of a family and healing takes at leas that long as well. She brought it up in the context of how proud she is of the children of my generation in our family, how much healthier and happier we are than the previous generations she knew. Sometimes we forget that, lost in the overwhelming harvest of brokenness and hardship we have to deal with today. In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters, Hermes tell Percy, the half human son of Poseidon "Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy. Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we're related, for better or worse... and try to keep the killing and maiming to to a minimum."
Harvests, like families, are often messy. But they are exactly and only what we make of them - 15 pounds of plums can be a fruit fly party ground, or the best ketchup you've ever tasted.
based on The Cottage Smallholder's recipe, but made my own
3 - 4 pounds of plums, preferably the small Italian plums, but a mix of whatever you can find
1 or 2 tart apples
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 - 2 inch knob of ginger
2 cups vinegar, cider or wine
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit - raisins, cranberries, apricots, etc.
2 tbs dehydrated onion
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs honey
2 tsp mild new mexico chile powder
2 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cloves
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
Remove the pits from the plums, chop the onion and apples fine, mince the garlic and slice the ginger into big slabs. Throw the fruit, vinegar and seasonings in a big pot and raise the heat slowly, stirring regularly to keep things from burning.
Keep stirring and mashing and simmering over as high a heat as it will take and not burn for, oh, three or four or five hours. You can put a lid on the pot, turn the heat off and leave it overnight if you need to. In the morning just bring it back up to a good boil for a minute or two, stirring to keep it from sticking.
Simmer until it gets to the consistency of a thin applesauce, not watery. Run everything through a food mill and then put back on the heat.
Check for seasoning at this point - or at any point. The seasoning above is approximately what I did this time but should just serve as a guide for you. Add more sweetner if you need, more salt, more garlic, etc. Keep simmering until it has a consistency just a little thinner than ketchup.
Pour into clean jars - my batch made about 2 1/2 pints - and either process in a water bath to seal or just let cool and store in the refrigerator. This ketchup is phenomenal with eggs, on a cheese sandwich or hamburger and makes the best barbecue sauce west of the Mississippi.
What are you harvesting this month and what are you doing with that harvest? Did you see the big full moon or celebrate the appearance of the new crescent moon? What's your favorite thing to do with Too Much Fruit?