Plums!

Plums are in season now and our trees are filled with ripe satsuma, Santa Rosa, and elephant heart plums. Over the last several days we have been experimenting with several batches of plum preserves – some with more success than others. Today I made my first jar of plum “leather”, which is what happens when you let the plum sauce cook too long. I will post when we come up with a satisfactory method. But until then I’m wondering, for those of you out there who also have plum trees, or access to a lot of plums, what do you do with them (besides eating them straight, usually standing over a sink to catch the juice)? If you make plum preserves, do you use a stove top or microwave? Use all of the juice or strain some of it? Do you have any tricks or tips you would be willing to share?

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  • phillyUKgirl

    Hi Elise,

    I don’t know if it’s too late to post a comment on an old column, but I’ve been experimenting with plums over here in England this summer. I’ve been trying damsons, as I’d never seen them before, but I imagine you’d get much the same results (with a lot less deseeding required!) from proper-sized plums. I did a Plum Compote with peach liqueur and toasted pecans (from Recipezaar)– lovely, especially leaving out the ginger, which made it less like a chutney and hence more versatile. Also did Delia Smith’s Spiced Plum Chutney–I highly recommend it, as with all Delia recipes, she is infallible! This has been my favorite recipe so far this summer (can’t wait to try it with sausages as she recommends, come the fall when it’s had time to mature).

    I haven’t drained off any juice, and left all but my first attempt to be a little wetter than you’d want as your finished product. I think it firms up upon sitting. All cooked on the stove-top–I like the old-fashioned-ness of watching a pot of fruit thicken over a few hours, which you’d miss in the microwave!

  • Crystal

    Hi Elise,

    I hope this has email notification, otherwise I’m sure it will be long-lost, but I figure if you have plum trees, you’ll still want more ideas. ;)

    I was looking for chorizo recipes and came across your site. Nice to know Whole Foods has decent chorizo, I buy the stuff in the packages, and the flavor of the good ones is ok, but the ingredients! No, I don’t want to eat animal lymph nodes, no matter how tasty the end result might be. And the chewy lumps, yuck.

    Since I only use a small amount (my kids don’t like chorizo and eggs. Yet) I figured it’s time to experiment and freeze for future use.

    I saw the PLUMS! link, and had to look. ;)

    We had a plum tree in Seattle, it had nearly given up producing, and we cut it back drastically, and found what must have been 10 years of plums wanting to grow, all in one year! It was crazy, we had plums coming out our ears, even with my MIL spending a week with us and eating 5 at a time as a snack, all through the day.

    I found a recipe for a plum pie in my LA Times cookbook. WOW. It really should have a thin-skinned plum, or you should skin them, but ours was not a thin-skinned plum, and the plums melt down quite a bit and there’s bit of plum skin, but it’s not so bad. But if you want to make it right, skin the plums. It’s easy and fast and worth it but if you’re just wanting a good, relatively healthy pie, leave them on. More fiber and nutrients never hurts. :)

    Here’s the recipe I used. I never would have thought of plum pie, but now I long for it. Buying enough plums would cost a fortune!

    Theoretically it’s supposed to have purple prune plums, but I don’t know that ours were. It worked.

    20 or so plums
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup flour
    1 to 2 tablespoons cinnamon (yes, it sounds odd. No, it’s not strong of cinnamon! Amazing)
    1 9 inch pie shell, unbaked
    2 tablespoons butter

    Preheat oven to 425

    Wash and dry plums, cut in halves and remove pits (I would skin before cutting if I were making for company or a competition of some sort). Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/4 of this mixture over bottom of pie crust. Overlap plums in circles over mixture (In my expeirence, this shrinks down so much you can put them nearly standing up, really pack them in there, the mixture that gets sprinkled on top thickens juices. Start on the outside edge, and work inward, it’s easier than the reverse, since the plums can lean against each other and the side of the pan, and you can make them look more pretty when it’s nearly full). You do want them kind of “reclining” back in the pan, you want the cut side pointing up just a wee bit. Sprinkle remaining mixture over top, dot with butter, and bake at 425 for 10 minutes, reduce to 350 and bake 30-35 minutes longer. Check crust though and put a foil collar around the edge if it gets too dark. If you’re oven temp is accurate, it shouldn’t.

    This is a surprisingly good pie. If you skin them, and your plums are the kind where the tart is in the skin, you may need to add a touch of lemon juice.

  • Elise

    This recipe came via email from reader Lou Grubaugh:

    I have an old family recipe from an aunt for Plum Conserve which results in a not-too-sweet jam. The recipe makes about 6 pints and calls for the following ingredients:

    7 cups tart plums (about 3 lbs.) unpeeled, seeded and sliced
    4 cups sugar
    3 1/2 cups raisins
    1 lemon, thinly sliced, including rind
    1 orange, thinly sliced, including rind
    1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

    Prepare fruit jars. In a large kettle (6-8 qt.), stir together all the ingredients except the walnuts; heat to boiling. Stirring frequently, boil gently 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Stir in walnuts. Fill jars, Seal, cool, store.

  • Kim

    I have a little plum tree in my backyard which produces a huge crop of plums each year. Here’s a recipe I put together for a spicy plum jam that my hubby loves with Greek Yogurt or on homemade bread.

    Plummy Winter Jam

    1 kilo plums
    30 grams pectin powder
    250 to 500 grams sugar (depends upon how sweet your plums are)
    2 cinnamon sticks
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    a pinch of cayenne pepper

    Clean and pit plums and slice them in a food processor (using the thin slicing blade so that there is some texture to the resulting jam). Cook together with spices and sugar (adjusting spices if needed – be a bit on the conservative side, they will intensify in flavor once the jam has been sealed). Add pectin and boil four gently four minutes (or according to directions on the pectin package you use). Remove cinnamon sticks and process in sterilized jars for jam.
    Makes about 3 pints. Doubles easily, but don’t do too much at a time or it will cool before you finish filling all jars.

    (I like using pectin to set the jam rather than cooking for a long time so that the nutrients stay in the fruit, plus you can cut down on the sugar needed. Pectin is also more convenient when you are processing small batches of fruit or have a busy work schedule like so many of us do!)

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