Front Yard Sorbet

For the past two years, I've enjoyed the deep red foliage and gorgeous white-pink blossoms of the plum tree in our front yard while merely stepping over the sticky stain blobs of the tiny plums it drops on the sidewalk. Never having an edible fruit tree before, I think we subconsciously assumed the plums were sour, toxic, or bad in some way. But this summer, since we've been in the rhythm of checking our garden for harvest-ready peas and tomatoes each day, I finally looked at the plum tree and really SAW the plums before they made it to the sidewalk and it dawned on me that we had no reason to believe the fruits were bad and had never even tested them.

I plucked just one off a branch, ate it, and waited around for a few hours ready to dial 911 if I started feeling poisoned or something. It was really juicy and sweet and I didn't die, so I commenced with Googling and unofficially identified that we are the owners of a "cherry plum" tree. Several websites dismissed these trees warning that cherry plums are not worth harvesting as they aren't much bigger than a cherry and their fruit clings to the pits. But I couldn't pass up the chance to pick and eat fruit with Turtle in our very own yard!

We got out the 6 foot ladder and took turns climbing up to reach the plums that we could. Unfortunately, many of them were still beyond my reach, so I would need some serious equipment if I ever really wanted to harvest them all. And many of them were already half eaten or fermented, bursting apart as we touched them. But eventually we had 20 or so good ones that we kept.

Since they were all pretty ripe and wouldn't last long and we didn't want to eat 20 plums that day, I decided we should make something out of them. Sorbet seemed summery and easy enough, so we looked at a few online recipes, rinsed the plums, and started to de-pit them.

Perhaps there exists some awesome technique or tool used for pitting cherry plums neatly. If so, please let me know. I just kind of ended up hacking them open with knives and then they'd nearly explode into a pulpy mess all over the cutting board. There was a lot of skin and juice all over the place and not much "meat" and it was really hard to get the meat off the pit. After trying a few different things, the easiest was to just hold a plum over a bowl and use my fingernails to kind of pull the pit out and just drop whatever was left behind into the bowl as juice dribbled down my arms. Very messy business and I was starting to understand the websites that said cherry plums aren't worth putting your energy into!

Here you can see what pitting 20 cherry plums gave us- less than a cup of juice and skins. I can't imagine how much work and mess it would have been to try to make a true quantity of sorbet.
Then we remembered that we had some leftover watermelon in the fridge, so we chopped that up and added it to bulk up our mixture. That went into a blender and then was strained to get the skins and seeds out. After straining, you can see that we only ended up with a little over a cup of stuff.

Meanwhile, I prepared a 1:1 sugar to water syrup on the stove. 1 cup sugar dissolved into 1 cup water allowed to boil for 30 seconds together. We added that directly to the fruit mixture. So, it ended up being 1 cup syrup to 1 cup fruit. Then a squirt of lemon juice, stirred it up, and put it in a container in the freezer. I have never made sorbet before. I have no idea if we needed the lemon juice, but most sorbet recipes had it. I have no idea if my ratio of syrup to fruit was right, because all of the recipes dealt with much larger quantities of fruit, used different ratios than each other, or said add syrup to taste. I had no idea if mixing watermelon and plum was a good idea and if our sorbet would taste any good at all, but we had fun making it, so I was happy with the experience.

The next day, we took out our nearly frozen solid chunk of sorbet and broke it up with a fork to make it fluffy, then put it back in the freezer for a couple hours. It looked gorgeous when we took it out after dinner:

Now, I'm no gourmet. It probably had too many ice crystals and maybe the sugar ratio wasn't quite right and so on and so forth. But it was really really yummy. Seriously yummy! Everyone loved it!

It was a lot of work and mess for a tiny bit of dessert, but it was even sweeter because we had used the fruits from our own tree and made it ourselves!

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