Whether you love plums and want to cook with them as much as possible or are simply trying to make use of a plethora of plums from your backyard tree, we round up some of the best ways to use fresh plums in this article.
The wide varieties of uses for plums may be surprising; you are certainly not limited to fruit salad and plum tart.
Plum Recipes: Jams, Jellies, and Chutneys
These sweet toppings usually come to mind first for most people thinking about plum recipes. And for good reason! Sweet, juicy plums make wonderful preserves and provide a welcome break from the usual grape jelly we see in stores. Hello PB&Plum-J!
Making bulk fruit into preserves – which encompasses jam, jelly, chutney, marmalade, confit, compote, and curd – has long been a way that we make use of fruit crops to enjoy them throughout the winter and spring until a new crop arrives the following year. Below are some of the best recipes online for plum preserves; keep your mind open to the variety of uses beyond your breakfast toast.
- Plum Jam by the Daring Gourmet: Check this recipe to learn how to make a basic plum jam. This recipe covers methods with and without pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring fiber that binds with sugar and fruit acid to make a gel, and it lowers the cooking time when making jams and jellies.
- Spiced Plum Jam by the Flavor Bender: Spiced plum jam brings a bit of autumnal flavor into a summery jam by adding cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. Personally, I look for any opportunity to add cardamom to sweets, and I think that would be a delightful add-in.
- Hot, Sweet Plum Chutney by Nigel Slater: Chutneys are like a sweet and savory jam, and if you haven’t tried them on meats yet, give this recipe a try. Chutneys bring huge flavor depth of onions and garlic to the sweetness of fruit in a texture thicker than a sauce. This would would be fantastic over pork chops.
- Plum Curd by the Fruitful Kitchen: Curds are a bit different than the above gelatinous fruit spreads. When you combine stewed fruits with eggs, sugar, and a few other ingredients and cook over low heat until thick, you get curd. Curd goes beautifully into small tarts for a smooth, creamy texture.
- Santa Rosa Plum Compote from Epicurious: Compote is fruit cooked in syrup on the stovetop, and it creates something similar to jam, but the fruit will be more intact, and it usually has a bit of a honeyed flavor. This recipe is crafted specifically for the unique flavor of Santa Rosa plums.
Plum Desserts- Pies, Cakes, Trifles, Tarts, Cobblers
A lot of us think of plums as only for fresh eating, but they make tasty baked goods. The options are nearly endless, and because they are not used as often as apples and berries, they make for a unique dessert for entertaining or potlucks.
- Fresh Plum Cake from Little Sweet Baker: While called a cake, this pretty plum dessert bakes up to about the height of a cheesecake and is topped with a crunchy sugar topping like a streusel. Spoon on a bit of fresh whipped cream for a super fresh summer dessert.
- Plum Upside Down Cake from Simply Recipes: Pineapple upside cake is a 1950s staple that is still with us – and for good reason! You may not know that you can make many varieties by substituting the pineapple for other fruit, and plums definitely work as described in this recipe!
- Glazed Plum Cheesecake from Gastronomical Wayfaring: Cheesecake? Sweet, citrussy glazed plums? You can’t go wrong with this combination.
- As Easy as Plum Pie from Food.com: Juicy plums between double pie crusts will be a wonderful warm, fall recipe. Depending on how juicy your plums are, you may need to add extra flour and sugar in the filling to absorb the juices. This can take a bit of trial and error to learn to eyeball the right amounts for your plums. Only use ripe plums to cut down on the amount of sugar needed. Don’t forget to pick up some vanilla ice cream to dollop on top!
- Plum Loaf Recipe from a Pretty Life in the Suburbs: Fresh plums go into this easy sweet bread recipe and come out in a soft dessert bread loaf. Pair this with the jam recipes above for a breakfast treat or use it for a decadent Monte Cristo sandwich base toast. Or, take it even a step further and use it in the plum bread pudding below.
- Plum Bread Pudding by In Erika’s Kitchen: Bread pudding can be a hit or miss recipe because some people love breading people and others will not touch it with a 10-foot-pole. If you are in the love it category, try this recipe made for Santa Rosa plums. This is another recipe that pairs well with ice cream.
- Elephant Heart Plums with Balsamic Glaze from Cooking on the Weekends: This simple recipe highlights the lovely sweet flavor of elephant heart plums and showcases the fresh plum slices. Use this recipe as printed for a plum dessert, or feel free to substitute the ice cream for goat cheese for a light summer meal.
- Plum Trifle from Skillets & Pots: If you have not yet discovered trifles, here is what you need to know: they are delicious, look fancy, and are so simple to make. You can easily convert recipes from multiple individual servings to one large dish. Use a large clear vessel for the most dramatic styling. Trifle would be a great use for elephant heart plums as their unique shape could be showcased against the edges of the glass.
- Plum Tart with Lemon Shortbread Crust from Fine Cooking: Tarts are another way to display and use lovely fresh plums, and plums go so well with the lemon zest in the shortbread crust. The shortbread crust is really was sets the tart apart from a pie, so for those of us who eat the filling and skip the pie crust, a tart may be just the thing.
International Plum Recipes
Many other countries and cultures rely on plums the same way we focus on apples and berries. Let’s take a look at some of the best international recipes that we are missing out on in America.
- German Plum Dumplings (Zwetschenknoedel) from the Spruce Eats: If you go into this expecting the plum version of an apple dumpling, you will probably be a bit surprised when you take your first bite. The plum stone is replaced with a sugar cube, but these can be served as a sweet or savory, depending on the accompaniment. Zwetschenknoedel are a traditional German fall dish that usually uses Italian plums, also called prune plums.
- Austrian Plum Butter from the Spruce Eats: This Austrian recipe also calls for Italian plums. Eat it as you would jam or use it in other German recipes.
- Plum Wine by Fermenting Foodies: Did you know you can make wine from plums? Many of us love the sweet, almost syrupy plum wine offered by Asian restaurants and markets, and sadly, this isn’t that. But, it is a full-bodied drinking wine that is much more palatable to broader audience and pairs well with dinner.
- Japanese Plum Wine from Just One Cookbook: It would be terrible to bring up Japanese plum wine without providing a recipe. Japanese plum win is actually a liqueur and not as challenging to make as you might assume. What is doesn’t require in skill, though, it does require in time. You’ll need to let this set for at least six months.
- German Plum Cake (Zwetschenkuchen) by the Daring Gourmet: Make this traditional German cake with Italian plums on a cookie sheet or in a Springform pan. The recipe, which is topped with cinnamon sugar, will probably seem similar to a crisp to most Americans but is a favorite recipe in Germany to use up late summer plums.
- Polish Plum Cake by the Polish Housewife: This thin, layered plum cake is a bit like baklava, a bit like coffee cake, and totally wonderful. Plum slices rest in a custardy filling for a lovely dessert or snack with coffee.
Plum Recipes: Digestive Aids
There’s something about the reputation of the plum’s dried up counterpart, the prune, that almost has urban legend status for being unappealing and bordering on revolting. But there is certainly a time an place for the digestive benefits of plums and prunes.
Brand new mothers dreading the first bowel movement after birth or dealing with their little one’s own tummy troubles might be the most willing to turn to the natural relief that prunes provide. Prunes also aid in iron absorption, makin them doubly beneficial to new mothers trying to recover.
By making your own prunes, prune juice, and stewed plums at home, you can customize the recipes to make them more palatable to your tastes. It really is possible to make pleasant prune juice!
- Dried Plums by An Oregon Cottage: Dried plums are technically called prunes, but the creator of this recipe refuses to have her dried plums lumped in with mass-market plums. As she points out, people who make dried plums at home will be very surprised at how pleasantly different they are from the moist, squishy prunes available in grocery stores. If you find yourself with a peck of plums from a big late summer harvest, this could be one of the fastest and easiest ways to save them.
- Easy Prune Puree from Yummy Toddler Food: Take those dried plums you made and turn them into on-demand prune purée for your baby when the diapers aren’t as plentiful as you might hope. As your baby ages, you can transition from prune purée to smashed prunes.
- Prune Juice by Sharmis Passions: Still have some dried plums? Make some prune juice. This is a grown-up recipe that includes sugar. You can make prune juice for babies by simply pureeing prunes and water in a blender or food processor until you reach the desired consistency. For both adults and children, consider mixing apple juice and prune juice together for a tasty drink. This is the cocktail recommended by labor and delivery nurses, and for good reason.
- Plum Fruit Leather from Natasha’s Kitchen: With only two ingredients, plums and sugar, making fruit leather will be one of the simplest ways to consume plums – and perhaps less daunting than digging into a bowl of prunes. Fruit leather is also a favorite for kids and great for hiking and backpacking.
Tips for Cooking with Plums
A lot of us didn’t grow up cooking with plums and are much more familiar and comfortable with cooking with apples and berries. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you learn your way around the plum:
- When incorporating plums as an ingredient in your plum recipes and in a fresh dish where they will be uncooked, make sure that you use ripe plums picked at the peak of their season. If you have some less ripe plums, mix those into jams, jellies, and chutneys because the sugar and other strong flavors will make any sourness less noticeable.
- Different varieties of plums come into season at different times. So, if you have access to more than one plum tree, and they are not the same kind, don’t fret if one seems to be ready to pick earlier than others.
- Taste your plums before fully committing them to a recipe. Some prunes are much more tart, like the Santa Rosa, while others are incredibly sweet, like the Green Gage. While you can sweeten tart plums with sugar, sometimes it is best to work with the plum rather than suffocate it in sugar to make a pie or cake. Tart plums will still work well in jam!
- Proper storage will extend the life of your plums. Storing in the refrigerator slows the aging process, so putting unripe plums in the refrigerator will actually delay or prevent them from fully ripening.
Excited for more plum content? Then check out our plum trees page for the latest growing tips, care guides, recipes, and more!