Posts Tagged 'plum'

Orange Plum Preserves

Back in the day when I was an Earth Mother – and I have the pictures to prove it: portly frame sitting between rows of tomatoes and squash…anyway, back in the day, I did all sorts of canning and preserving. There were peach preserves with rum, cherry conserve with walnuts. I stored them in the basement, and gave the little jars as gifts with fancy labels and calico wrapped around their tops.  I still have the canner stored downstairs.

But this time, I didn’t feel like fussing with the canner, and I wanted to use up as many plums as possible. So I experimented with refrigerator jam.  It made about 5 cups of jam. I put it in little one cup containers.  I gave two to friends, froze two for later, and used one up. I put it on toast and bagels, stirred it into my oatmeal, and even used a spoonful or two as a glaze on chicken. It is actually kind of jewel like in color – although it didn’t photograph particularly well.

Most of the recipes I looked at to get ideas called for 3-4 cups of sugar. I reduced it to 2 cups, and it was still very, very sweet.

Orange Plum Preserves

4 pounds ripe Italian/prune plums, pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup orange juice
2 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoons orange zest (confession – I used dried grated orange peel from a bottle)

Combine plums and orange juice in a heavy pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until plums are tender. Stir in sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Cook over medium heat 40 minutes, until thick or a candy thermometer reaches 210°. Stir mixture occasionally. (Do not overcook or mixture will scorch.) NOTE: My mixture took more like and hour and a half to get to 210. You really need to keep stiring frequently as it begins to thicken or it definitely will scorch and you’ll have to throw it all out. I lowered the heat toward the end. I also found that the candy/jelly thermometer was really the way to go, as I couldn’t judge if it was thick enough. Remove from heat and cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze.  This has no fat.

plum jam

And that, my dear, is finally the end of the plums!


Rum Plum Upside Down Cake

So you thought the plums were gone. Hah!  At least I have moved them to a smaller bowl and now have room to put items in the refrigerator like a giant head of cabbage.

I have always loved upside down cake – that lovely gooey sugary topping, that soft, sweet baked fruit.  The only problem is that the gooey topping is made out of a great deal of butter, which is delicious but has too much fat. Then I saw an ingenious solution in Veggie Belly’s blog: make a kind of syrup to pour over the fruit and form the gooey topping. The syrup has no butter – I used a teaspoon of butter only to make sure that the cake didn’t stick to the pan when I flipped it over, which would have ruined the upside down effect.  Her original recipe was made with fresh figs – but what does it matter: figs, plums, they’re all small soft fruit. I topped the plum mix with an ordinary yellow cake batter.

Rum Plum Upside Down Cake
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon butter
About 1 lb of very ripe Italian (prune) plums, halved lengthwise (as many as you need to cover the bottom of your cake pan)
2/3 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 Tablespoons brown sugar, more or less depending on how sweet the plums are
¼ cup rum
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon butter, softened
3 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup sugar
½ cup egg substitute
¾ cup low fat buttermilk
1 Tablespoon rum

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray an 8 inch square cake pan with cooking spray. Melt the teaspoon of butter in the bottom of the pan and swirl around. Alternatively, melt the teaspoon of butter and brush it on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the plums in the bottom of the buttered cake pan in a single layer. I put them cut side down.  Mix cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, sugar in a small bowl with the 1/4 cup of rum. Pour this spiced rum over the plums.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk. Beat the one tablespoon of butter with 3/4 cup sugar using a mixer at medium speed until light. Add the applesauce and beat. Add egg substitute, ¼ cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat in rum.

Pour batter over plums, spreading batter evenly. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around outside edge. Place a plate upside down on top of cake. Invert cake onto plate; cool.

This gooey delight makes 8 generous servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.  This leaves you room to top it with low fat ice cream or whipped cream – just remember to add the extra fat grams.

plum upsidedown cake

Plum Strudel Redux

I am making the plum strudel again, for no particular reason other than 1) I need to do it again so I can post it after my disastrous initial attempt, 2) a friend of mine and I are running errands and we plan to come back to the house for tea, and 3) still too many plums left.  I decided to use the same plum mixture as I did before, since it tasted good.  I used 3 cups of plums rather than 4, because it seemed to me that 4 cups was too much to fit in the dough, and I added flour to the mix, like the apples, to absorb some of the copious plum juice.  But the biggest change was that I handled the phyllo dough like the apple strudel recipe, rather than the elaborate procedure for layering that I tried before.

Plum Strudel

3 cups thinly sliced plums
¼ – ½  cup packed brown sugar (depending upon how sweet your plums are and how sweet you want your filling – mine was a bit tart)
¼ cup diced pitted prunes (I only had the orange essence prunes, but they worked fine)
½ teaspoon grated orange or lemon rind
8  sheets frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
Butter-flavored cooking spray
½ teaspoon cinnamon-sugar or granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan by spraying with butter-flavored cooking spray.

Toss the plums, brown sugar, prunes, and rind in a large bowl.

Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large work surface (cover remaining dough to keep from drying); lightly coat phyllo sheet with cooking spray. Place one phyllo sheet at a time atop the others, coating each with cooking spray as you stack the layers. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over stacked phyllo, pressing gently to seal sheets together; discard plastic wrap.

Spoon plum mixture along 1 long edge of phyllo, leaving a 2-inch border (it will actually cover most of the phyllo). Fold over the short edges of phyllo to cover 2 inches of plum mixture on each end.

Starting at long edge with 2-inch border, roll up jelly-roll fashion. (Do not roll tightly, or strudel may split.) Place strudel, seam side down, on the prepared pan. Score diagonal slits into top of strudel using a sharp knife. Lightly spray strudel with cooking spray and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. This makes 8 servings at about 1 gram of fat/serving.

plum strudel whole

Doesn’t this look better than the last one

plum strudel slice

And it tasted good, too.

Confession. This plum strudel was just determined to give me trouble. I forgot to defrost the phyllo dough last night, so I put it in a warm place on top of the stove while I ate breakfast and then made the filling. Unfortunately, the spot was too warm, and part of the dough baked while thawing.  I cut the sheets in half and only used the unbaked halves, but it was kind of a patch together job. Fortunately, phyllo is flaky, and it is hard to tell if the flakes are natural or part of the patch job.

Plum Chutney

I am still working on using up the plums.  After giving away several bags of them, I decided that I would use them up faster if I made something that called for pounds, rather than cups of plums.  I wanted to use whole pots of plums at once.

plum diced

So I took an old apple chutney recipe, modified it a bit, and used plums instead.  But instead of tasting South Asian, it sort of tastes like plum barbecue sauce. Not that that’s unpleasant – just unexpected. And I made a double recipe, so I have a lot of it.  I have eaten it on crackers with cream cheese for my evening snack (quite tasty).

plum chutney craackers

I used a cup of it with some cubed buffalo, mushrooms and onions to make a barbecue to spoon over rice. I added a cup to a meatloaf instead of the tomato sauce or ketchup. I ate it instead of ketchup or mustard on various sandwiches.  All very good.  But the real reason I made it – drum roll for the Wow factor – was to take to a potluck to accompany a platter of cold, sliced smoked pork tenderloin.

plum chutney platter

Plum Chutney

3 pounds prune plums, chopped coarsely
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
¾ cup malt vinegar (cider vinegar would also work)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon honey

Put all ingredients in a large, heavy pot. Cover and cook over low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally,  Remove cover and mash plum mixture with a fork or potato masher. Cook over medium heat until the chutney thickens, stirring occasionally and making sure it doesn’t burn. As the chutney gets thicker, stir more frequently to keep it from burning. Store in refrigerator, or freeze in small batches for later use. This makes about 4 cups with no fat grams/serving.

Plum Clafouti

We picked the rest of the plums, the ones that were too high in the tree to reach from the ground. Unfortunately, the little sugar bees had discovered the split plums and the tree was full of them.  In order to avoid getting stung, we whacked the tree with a stick and picked up the plums as they fell to the ground.  There are a lot of plums. Two buckets full.

plum bucket

While we were whacking the tree and causing plums to rain down, a mother deer and her still spotted fawn stood in the field about 200 feet away and watched us.  She knew exactly what we were doing. I expect she is the orphan fawn that lived in the brush beside the fruit trees last year.  She knows all about plums, since I always throw the bird pecked fruit on the ground..  When we walked away from the tree and stood a few feet away talking, mother and fawn crept up and began eating the leftover plums. My friend went back to get the stick he had used, and she ran off about 50 feet away and stood and screamed at him until we went inside.

I made this recipe not just to use up plums, but because I love the word clafouti.  A clafouti is a baked French dessert that is typically made by baking fresh fruit (traditionally cherries) and a batter in a baking dish.  Clafoutis are typically desserts, but I think you would need a sauce over them to make an interesting dessert. They are quite eggy, and I ate it as a breakfast dish  (egg batter and fruit, what could be nicer for breakfast.)  I actually think it would make a rather nice brunch dish.  This recipe was modified from a Cooking Light fig clafouti – after all I have plums to use up, not figs

Plum Clafouti

½ pound Italian plums, pitted and thinly sliced
Cooking spray
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ cups fat free milk
½ cup fat free half and half
½ teaspoon grated orange rind
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup egg substitute

Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate or a 7 ½ x 11 baking dish with cooking spray. Place plums in bottom of dish.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon, in a bowl. Gradually add half of milk, stirring with a whisk. Stir in remaining milk, fat free half and half, rind, egg and egg substitute. Pour batter over plums. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until set; cool. This is one of those dishes that puffs up to the top of the dish, and then caves in as it cools.  This make 6 servings at one gram of fat/serving.

plum clafouti

Ported Plums

My plum tree is covered in plums!  Stanley (that’s the tree’s name. It’s a Stanly plum tree) has dark dusky plums hanging in clusters everywhere.

plum tree

Now Stanley was not always a prolific tree. In fact, for the first five years, he bore no fruit, despite the fact that he grew full and leafy and made delightful shade. Stanleys are self-pollinating, so I was rather disappointed in his lack of productivity. Then I bought a tall, elegant self-pollinating cherry tree that I planted next to Stanly. The very first summer, that tree produced a handful of sweet, succulent cherries. So I took the handful of cherries and held them out in front of Stanley. “This” I told him firmly, “is what you are supposed to do. If I don’t see plums next year, I’m going to chop you down and put in another cherry tree.”  Next summer, Stanley produced over 40 pounds of plums. Don’t tell me it’s because of the presence of a pollinating tree next to him. I don’t want to hear science. I want to think that my stern lecture worked. In subsequent years, he’s varied in production from 5 pounds to 30-40 pounds. Last year he sulked because I had him pruned. This is a 40 pound year, I’m sure.

I’ve been out in the cool of the morning picking plums. I picked about 5 pounds when they were really not at peak ripeness, but if I wait to pick them when they are all perfectly ripe, I’ll have 40 pounds of ripe plums to deal with.  Besides, I rather like the tart sweet flavor of the young plums. (Warning – these are sometimes called prune plums.  If you eat them by the handful – well, you know the result!) The plums are also great to cook with at this stage.  Then I picked all of the plums I could reach standing on the ground and bending down the branches. There are still a lot of plums up higher in the tree, which require a ladder to pick.

plum counter

One of my favorite things to do with Stanley plums is to poach them in port and top them with sour cream or whipped cream. (I think this would also be good with other sweet wines, such as sherry). This is really not a precise recipe.  Put plums (as many as you want to eat or serve) in a heavy pot. You can pit them if you want or cook them with the pits in.  Pour port wine into the pot about half way up the plums. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer, turning them over occasionally, until the plums are soft but still hold their shape. This is very sweet; you do’t need to add sugar. Serve warm, topped with non-fat sour cream.  This has essentially 0 grams of fat.

plum ported

For guests, you can also top them with a dollop of whipped cream.  Or cook them down so they are mushy and a spoon them over low fat ice cream – but be sure to count the fat grams in the whipped cream or ice cream.

Now excuse me while I dine on ported plums and a cup of hot tea and drift off for a nap.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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