Plums are a wonderful addition to a food producing garden. Even a small tree will, after a few years, begin to produce an abundance of fruit when cared for correctly. If you have a larger plum tree, or multiple plum trees in your garden or on your allotment, then you might be wondering what to do with all those plums.
First of all, of course, you may well eat plenty of your plums fresh. It is likely that you will experiment with the range of recipes that allow you to make desserts with your plums. For instance, you might make plum puddings, plum crumbles, plum pastries and pies… You might make plum muffins, or add them to cakes. Or you might make cheesecakes, frozen yoghurts, or even plum ice cream.
You might also simply freeze some for later use if you do not have time to eat or cook with them right away. But you might need to find some other ways to use up and preserve your plums if your freezer is full.
Here are some ideas to help you make the most of your harvest:
Juicing plums is a good way to use up some of your harvest when you cannot eat all of your plums right away. Plum juice is a healthy addition to your diet, and can be delicious on its own, or blended with juice from other garden fruits. Many sweeter plum varieties can be used to make plum juice, and if the juice is still too tart, you can sweeten it to taste with honey, sugar or other sweeteners.
You can juice plums (with the stones removed, of course) in a juicer or blender, or cook and strain the plums. Either way, the juice can be used in a number of ways. You might not only drink it as is. It is possible to use it in cocktails, or even freeze some to make ice lollies for kids… You might even make some plum wine.
Plum Fruit Leather
When making plum juice, you will be left with the pulp from the fruits. Don’t throw this away. Blend the pulp and skins to a finer texture, sweeten to taste, then spread these very thinly on a lined baking tray.
You can then dry this at a low temperature in your oven overnight to make ‘fruit leather’ – a homemade equivalent to fruit roll-ups.
Another traditional way to use up a glut of plums is of course to make some jam. There are many different recipes to consider, some of which use simply plums and sugar or another sweetener, and many more which have additional ingredients.
Adding spices like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg can elevate a plum jam to the next level. And it can be delicious not only on toast but also used in a range of other ways – both with sweet and savoury ingredients. You might also consider adding different types of fruit to make some other delicious jams.
Another way to preserve plums from your garden is by making a plum chutney. Combining plums with sugar, vinegar, and spices to taste can allow you to make a wide range of chutneys and other condiments which can work well with curries, or as an accompaniment to a range of other dishes, from nut roasts to cheese plates. Plum chutney can be great with salads too, which you make to use up whatever other fresh ingredients you have on hand.
Spiced Plum Sauce
If you love flavour and are bored of sweet plum recipes, another way to use up some plums is in a plum sauce. Again, there are a range of different sauces you can make. And these can be used in a wide range of recipes.
Plums lend themselves well to chilli sauces, and also to sweet and sour sauces. They work well with five spice, and also with fiery ginger, for example.
If you decide to make jams, chutneys, juice or sauces, it is safest to can or bottle your wares if you want them to last for a decent length of time. Using sealable jars with lids and rings, you can make and then process your plum recipes for a certain length of time in a water bath canner.
You can also simply can plums in a water bath canner in a simple sugar syrup. Just make sure that for food safety reasons, you follow a recipe from a trusted source.
Dry Plums to Make Prunes
Another thing that you can do with your plums is dry them to make prunes. You can dry them in your oven, or in an electric dehydrator. Once dried, your plums will keep for a lot longer than they would have done fresh, without taking up too much space in your freezer or pantry.
Prunes are good for the digestive system and are more versatile as ingredients than you might think. You can juice them too, or you can add them to breakfast cereals or yoghurt. Another idea is to add them chopped into breads and a whole host of different baked goods. You can also add them to warm salads or a range of other dishes.
Plum Infused Spirits
Another easy way to use up your plums is to add them to vodka, gin or other spirits to infuse these with fruity flavour. Add the fruits, along with some sugar to your jars or bottles, and shake these regularly over a few months to let the flavours infuse. This could be a fun idea for drinks over the festive period, or could even make good gifts over the Christmas season.
Finding different recipe ideas to use up the fruit that you grow in your garden is one of the best ways to ensure that the food your produce does not go to waste. It can also help you make sure that you are making the most of the results of your efforts. These different ideas mentioned above should help you as you begin to research different recipes, giving you some inspiration to help you find some of the great plum recipes that are out there.
This is, of course, just the beginning. If you have your own plum recipe ideas to share, please do let us know below. We’d love to hear what you do with the plums you grow in your garden.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.