Plums!

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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!)

  5. Chip Brantley

    Plums! There it is — the one exclamation point at Simply Recipes. But a worthy one. If anything deserves it, it’s fresh Santa Rosa plums. I’m a just-eat-them-over-the-sink guy, but another non-Jandro Montaguan makes a dense, sweet plum tart. I’ll get his recipe and be back in touch. Thanks for saying hello.

  6. Julie

    I purchased The “Ball” Blue Book of Canning this year to help with other canning of fruits and they had several ideas on the hoe to’s of canning and freezing as well as recipes…they can be found on the web at http://www.homecanning.com
    try that as well!

  7. Katherine Walsh

    Hi Elise,

    Plums! Aren’t they wonderful? But sometimes the plum tree goes completely mad and produces enough fruit to feed you, your family, the neighbours and still has fruit left over for the wasps. The following year though, there are only a handful of plums.
    I have recently heard from a successful fruit grower, that if I thin out the fruit in June, I will get a consistant crop every year. I am looking forward to trying this. No more cycles of furious jam making glut, followed by plumless famine.

    Ps. Plum and Apple Jam is lovely. Not so sweet as plum alone.

    Use 1lb plums, 1 lb cooking apples and 1 1/2 lb jam sugar (sugar with pectin added) and cook in the usual way.

  8. Trish

    Thank you for the plum bits. I’ve not made any of the relishes/chutney (my husband isn’t a great fan) but plum crumble, with cinnamon, goes down a treat. I use our own Victoria plums and the crumble mixture from any of Nigel Slater’s books. Victorias do need a deal of sugar though I tend to use Greek honey. Oh rats, I’m off to make another one.

  9. Ashley

    Thanks for all the great ideas. This is my first year with a magnificent plum tree. It is in addition to a peach, nectarine, and apple tree my grandmother planted. We have more fruit than I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’m going to try the plum pie for father’s day tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes!

  10. Ellen

    Hello plum lovers,

    Several years ago I lived in a place with a Santa Rosa plum tree in the backyard. I used to make plum cake–there is a recipe in Joy of Cooking called “Plum cake Cockaigne”. Santa Rosas are the ideal variety. It’s like a coffee cake with plums on top, halved. Very yummy, especially warm. Good for dessert topped with ice cream (or not!) or as a special breakfast treat. Good way to impress a new lover.

  11. Trudi

    Hello plum ‘victims’,
    this year our one-and-only plumtree has gone absolutely nuts (can this be said of plum trees?) and even broke some branches due to the abundance of this year’s crop. I will certainly follow Katherine’s advice and thin out in June…
    Sooo, what do we do with this year’s crop? I already filled 20 pots with delicious ‘confiture’ (like the one Kim suggested) and I just finished the first steps of plum wine:

    5 kilo’s plums (pitted)
    2 liters water
    5 grams dry yeast
    1 kilo sugar
    Heat the water and add sugar and yeast. Stirr and mix with the plums. Put in a large plastic or earthenware container for about 10 – 15 days.
    Strain. Return into the container for another week.
    Put thru a fine sieve and bottle.

    Liqueur de prunes (sweet prune licor)

    1 kg plums (no seeds)
    1 kg white candy sugar
    1 liter ‘eau de vie’ 40%

    Put the washed plums, sugar and eau de vie in an air tight container. Place in a dry and dark place for 6 months. At the end of this period strain, and put into bottles.
    In stead of this you can use the plums as a delicious condiment for your deserts. It will also do wonders with a ball of vanilla ice cream.

    With the rest of our crop I think I will go to the market place to sell for a euro a bucket…

  12. Garrett

    The vanilla is subtle and just sort of lingers in the air like the smoke from a fire extinguished hours ago. Mouth-puckering tart, smile inducing sweet, and altogether shibby.

    Vanilla Plum Sorbet
    What You’ll Need…
    8 plums
    3/4 cup of vanilla sugar or sugar
    1 vanilla bean
    1/2 cup of sugar

    What You’ll Do…
    Chop and pit the plums. Discard the pits. Puree the plums and push through a strainer. Combine with water, sugar/vanilla sugar, and cut open and scrape out the inside of a vanilla bean. Whisk together.

    Chill the mixture, then freeze it in your ice cream maker per the manufacturer’s instructions. (I used one from the vanilla sugar bottle that had some left. Remember, vanilla beans can be used many times before being discarded.)

  13. Nancy McLaughlin

    Please Help!

    I too have plums coming out of my ears and don’t have much time to cook or can or anything else right now with everything else coming in.

    Can anyone give me a hint on how to destone the plums quickly? From reading your column, sounds like I will have to skin them as well. Can I just dump them into a pot and cook till the stones come off? Or steam them or something?

    I will be eternally grateful for any suggestions or tried and true methods. Thanks much.

  14. jo

    I am so pleased you have a specific section for “plums!”, Even put the well deserved exclamation point. I am obsessed with all varieties of plums. Our tree had it’s leaves and spring blooms killed by a small late snow so it won’t produce this year, nor our teenie wild plums down the lane, but I cannot wait til next year! I am glad everyone posted up some recipes. I have a large collection of them, but none of the above and they all sound delicious!
    I am also pleased because over the past few years it’s been in the news that orchards (especially heirloom plums) are becoming scarce and people have been so interested in exotic fruits it was worrysome..I am glad I am not alone, and that there are still Plum enthusiasts to keep them thriving.

    I guess it depends on where you live what time to thin them, but basically !as soon as! you notice the bulbous beauties starting you should remove any touching plums both for insect and mold/mildew preventative and also so that no branches break off. Not to mention the aforementioned problem of “year on year off” crops.
    Good luck and happy “plumming”!

  15. wanda hall

    Hi There~
    I have a santa rosa plum tree in back yard its and old one, 1979 our house was built on farm land. My family and I moved in 1996 we love it co-workers love the plums. I need to find someone who has a santa rosa plum sauce recipe, I think it would be great on chicken.

    Thanks Wanda

  16. Josie

    I’m in the same dilema as Nancy McLaughlin. I’ll repeat her question:

    “Can anyone give me a hint on how to destone the plums quickly? From reading your column, sounds like I will have to skin them as well. Can I just dump them into a pot and cook till the stones come off? Or steam them or something?”

    Is this possible to do and then use the “mushy” stuff in recipes?

    Thanks, Josie

  17. thisKat

    Josie & Nancy: I made plum jam yesterday and didn’t skin the plums. I did cut them in quarters and found it pretty fast to get the pits our, though these are Italian plums and they’re pretty ripe.

    Thanks to everyone who posted recipes with spice. While my plum jam has a nice consistency, and the kids are more than happy to eat it on their waffles, it was a bit bland for my tastes. And I have to try that Vanilla Plum sorbet…yuuuummm

  18. Marcela J. Rodriguez

    I was surprised by all the diferent way to use the plums. I have been eating them right by the sink. My tree was very prolific this year. I will try making a preserve from this site recipes. Thanks

  19. lizely

    Hi there – I live in Southern Ca. with a prolific Santa Rosa Plum tree, as well as a son in the Pacific Northwest (not with a Santa Rosa plum tree.)

    As mentioned before, the kitchen sink is the best – who can resist? But then you still have to deal with the over-abundance of nature.

    First, make jam. Freezer jam is the best for taste and color. However, i’s hard to convince donees. Preserved jam is a far, far second.

    I’ve found that BBQ plums are really good. Hunt for recipe on web. Since I still have jam from years past, I’m going to try cold soup this year.

  20. Fermat

    I’ll have to try some of these recipes with all the wild plums we’ve got this year. Every tree is loaded down and coming ripe all at once. Lol…they’re munchkin sized but very tasty.

  21. Jamie the nectarine lover

    If I had a nectarine tree that was as prolific as my girlfriend’s plum tree I would be in heaven! Not to be unappreciative of the 1000 plums in the kitchen right now!

    But looking for plum recipes on this site made me so happy I just had to post! Thank you everyone for sharing your wisdom about plums.

    We’re gonna make my girlfriend’s mother’s plum cake recipe and when I get a good plum sauce I’m gonna make that (to go with home made pot stickers, yum!)

    Thanks everyone for reminding me of the sweetness that can come from the internet!

  22. Tina

    Here’s one for the holidays I found while looking for really old traditional recipes. This one I think is from the 1400’s. It may sound tedious, but most of it is wait time. Slightly under ripe plums are easier to work with than fully ripe. Don’t make to large a batch – gets unwieldy in the pot.

    Sugarplums(and other stone fruits)

    1-2 pounds of plums (any variety) fully ripe but not too soft
    lots of white granulated sugar
    a large, heavy saucepan, preferably enamel or stainless so you can leave the plums in
    a wire rack — a cookie cooling rack works very well — set up over a cookie sheet covered with wax paper or a dehydrator

    Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the pits. Do not peel the plums.

    Put a thin layer of sugar in the bottom of the saucepan
    Lay the plums halves, cut side down, on the sugar in a single layer. Add enough sugar to completely cover the layer of plums, then lay another layer of plums on top. Continue layering until all the plums have been used and are covered.

    Put the pan on the stove over the lowest heat possible. The sugar needs to dissolve in the plum juices without burning. While this is happening, stir very gently and scrape the sugar away from the sides of the pan. Try to disturb the fruit as little as possible.

    When all the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat until the syrup comes to a gentle boil.

    Let the fruit boil for one minute, then remove the pan from the stove.

    If you used anything but glass, enamel, or stainless, gently transfer the plums to a different pot/bowl/crock or whatever.

    Carefully place a plate over the fruit to keep it submerged in the syrup. Cover with the pan lid or a clean dish towel and let soak for three days. The soaking process should be at room temperature.

    After three days, carefully remove the fruit (I don’t remove the fruit) and bring the syrup to a boil. Gently return the fruit to the syrup, bring to a gentle boil again and let boil for one minute. Remove from heat and repeat the soaking process. Repeat the boiling and soaking process one more time, for a total of nine days soaking and approximately 3 minutes boiling.

    After the last soaking, remove the fruit from the syrup. Heat the syrup again and dissolve one additional cup of sugar in it. Let the syrup boil until it thickens somewhat (it may darken as well, depending on what variety of plums you’ve use), add the fruit again and allow it to boil gently for four minutes.

    Remove the pan from the heat. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove the plums one at a time from the syrup and rinse the excess syrup away under cool, gently running water.

    Spread the plums on a wire rack and put in a warm dry place.
    Turn the plums every other day. When the plums are almost dry (they should still feel a bit sticky) roll in granulated sugar. Finish drying.

    The drying time may be anywhere from a few days up to about two weeks, depending on local weather. When the plums are completely dry, store in an air-tight container.

  23. Courtney

    This is really belated, but last year I made an AMAZING plum sorbet. It was really good, but the batch I made next I threw in some cinnamon and rosewater and couldn’t keep enough of it in the freezer to keep company happy. It’s definitely a change from jelly, and it keeps in the freezer instead of on the shelves in cold storage.

  24. Robin

    When in staying in Japan with my parents I was served plum wine. Wonderful! They make it at home by soaking green plums in vodka (?) with some sugar and letting it sit.

  25. Nancy Cohn

    Used your link, and found another plum conserve recipe I thought I’d share– it is delicious!!

    12 C quartered plums (Santa Rosa or similar)
    7 C sugar
    peel of one lemon, julienned
    2 finely chopped hot red peppers
    6 star anise
    8 peppercorns and 4 cloves in cheesecloth

    Toss ingredients together in a large, nonreactive pot. Heat gently over low heat until the sugar melts, turn heat up and bubble away until thickened, about 40 minutes. Ladle into sterilized jars and process in water bath as indicated by your altitude (20 minutes in the mountains where we are), or refrigerate and eat soon!