With my recent marathon of processing plums, I again realized how important it is to have the right tool for the job. Without the correct equipment the task takes much longer and the results can be less than desired.
FOOD MILL – For the cooked plums that I used to make jam, conserves and syrup, I needed a good sized food mill. I chose the medium size mill plate so I would get most of the pulp and some skin to add a little tartness. I pitted the fruit and cooked it with some cinnamon and ginger. After it softened I let it cool and then processed it in the food mill. That gives the base to start with for making the finished product. In my situation the food mill is essential and I use it often. If you do much canning or preserving, then is probably not an essential tool for your kitchen as well.
MESH STRAINERS – For the puree base that I wanted to freeze, I needed a strainer with the right size mesh that would catch most of the skins but let the pureed pulp pass through. After pitting the fruit I processed it in the high-speed blender (or a food processor) and then passed it through the strainer. At this point it can be frozen to use later in many ways. I use it as a base for sorbet, sauces and glazes.
A variety of strainers in different diameters and with different size mesh is essential to getting the results you want. Some should be large mesh like a window screen. Others should be very fine, double mesh. If you are straining to get a totally smooth, silken texture then you need a very fine double mesh. However if you want some of the product to pass through the strainer, as I did for the plums, then you want a larger mesh strainer. One of each is plenty to start and you can add on from there.