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Sep 10, 2006 08:10 AM


There is a touch of Autumn in the air, and the markets are featuring the gorgeous deep purple jewel-like Italian Plums. What do you all like to use them for? I am always looking for more recipes, especially for tarts and conserves. Have you ever used them in a savory dish?

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    1. re: TexasToast

      Thanks TT for the beautiful photo. Yes, Italian Plums they are! Small, deep purple ovals. They are NOT an eating fruit, but are wonderful cooked.

      I make a delicious Conserve with plums, washed and halved, strips of lemon rind, lemon juice, and brown sugar,Cinnamon Stick, Star Anise. Cook until thick. In glass jars tightly covered this keeps for months. I have also made Conserve as above, adding dried fruits such as apricots, cherries, pears and peaches, as well as Red Wine.Incredible served with cheese, cold meats like Ham ,or Turkey, or as a glaze for Baked Cjicken or Pork.

      1. re: Fleur

        These are Stanley plums and I think they ARE an eating fruit - these were always my favorite plum to eat out of hand. But they are wonderful cooked - we used to make plum kuchen with a yeast coffeecake dough patted into a pie plate, topped with halved Stanleys skin side down, sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon, dotted with butter. wonderful stuff.

        1. re: sheiladeedee

          I believe Stanley Plums and Italian Plums are different varieties. The Italian are very small, hard, with a flat taste, very little juice, and a mealy consistency.They are never eaten raw by the Italians. When cooked,they explode with flavor.

          1. re: Fleur

            The ones in the picture I've tried to eat raw, and I can't, as they're too firm and sour.


        2. re: Fleur

          Wow, we have a huge harvest of these plums. Do you have a more exact recipe for your conserve? It sounds delicious.

        3. re: TexasToast

          The ones I buy look exactly like that, but they are delicious. I prefer them to other plums for eating out of hand. The farmer calls them "prunes" or "prune plums".

          1. re: danna

            Well, maybe they weren't ripe.


            1. re: TexasToast

              The whoever said the plums in the picture are not eating plums, sorry, but your wrong. They are eating plums, but in the picture, they are very unripe. When ripe they shouldnt be red at all, but should be a dark blue. When theyre firm and red outside and green inside theyre going to be really sour and gross to eat uncooked(though Ive never tried cooking them when unripe). Wait until theyre ripe and they are the best thing to eat out of hand. I have 7 trees with about 100 lbs each right now so Im drying, freezing, baking and doing whatever else I can with them. I like to make a cake with them by melting butter in the bottom of a baking pan, sprinkling brown sugar cinnamon and nutmeg on the bottom then placing halved ripe plums pit side down to cover to pan and then covering the plums in a white cake mix... Its so good.

        4. "Italian" is a common variety of prune, which are plums with a meatier, drier consistency. Sort of like a paste tomato. Less juice, but more concentrated flavor. Most commonly halved, pitted and dried, and sold as dried prunes. As fresh fruit these are a real treat! Scroll down this link to see a photo (unripe) and description. This could be the ones you have.

          Here is a recipe for a fresh plum/prune tart.

          2 c a.p. flour
          3/4 c plus 2 T cold butter cut into small pieces
          1/2 c sugar
          1 egg

          3 # plums
          6 T sugar crystals
          Whipped cream if desired

          Sift flour into large bowl. Cut cold butter into flour until evenly distributed and mixture is like breadcrumbs. Tossing lightly ith a fork, mix in sugar and egg to make a dough. Press together and wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate 30 min.

          Wash and halve plums, remove pits and cut in half again (quarters).

          Preheat oven to 400 F.

          Roll dough out on floured surface to fit a 10-inch flan tin (with removeable bottom). Ease dough into tin without stretching. Press into flute in pan sides, and pierce bottom and sides with a fork. Place plums skin side down, cut side facing the middle, in concentric circles to form a rosette to fill the pastry shell. Sprinkle with half the crystal sugar. Bake for 30 minutes; cover with foil if pastry is becoming too brown.
          Cool slightly in tin, then remove and sprinkle with the rest of the sugar. Serve with whipped cream on the side.

          1. While I haven't cooked w/ those plums before, I made a tart last year using other plums and pluots using a recipe that originally called for Italian prune plums. Here's a link to that post w/ a link to the recipe on Epicurious:

            1. a few ideas:

              I second the idea of a plum cake -- Marian Burros published a great recipe in the NY Times almost yearly for years in the 1990s-- I am sure it is available on the web if you search. We eat this on Rosh Hashana and often break the fast with it on Yom Kippur. It appearance coinciding with the Jewish Holidays is one of the joys of the seasons.

              Another idea -- hungarian style dumplings. Great recipe in George Lang's The Cuisines of Hungary, encased in potato dough. They are even better the next day split, breaded and sauteed in butter. Lily Joss Reich includes other recipes in her Viennese pastry cookbook, based on pot cheese and wheat dough. You may not feel the need to eat for several days after consuming a few of these.

              Finally, there is a Georgian dish for lam stewed with sour fruit called Chakhapuli I think. It is pretty simple -- you basically put lamb stew, slice fruit a lots of garlic and cilantro in a pot and stew it. This would probably be good with these plums too.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Alan Divack

                The Marian Burros recipe:

                Cream together 1 cup sugar and 1 stick (4 oz.) sweet butter. Add 1 cup AP flour and 1 tsp. baking powder and beat to combine. (I use the paddle attachment on the KitchenAid mixer, at low speed.) Add two whole eggs. Spread this batter (which will be *very* thick) in the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Halve 14 or 15 plums lengthways and remove the pits (this is very easy with Italian prune plums.) Toss them with a little lemon juice and cinnamon sugar. Lay them cut side up on the batter (you may have one or two halves left over depending on their size and how tightly you pack them.) Bake at 350° for an hour, maybe a few minutes more, until the top is nicely browned. (The cake will be gummy if you take it out too soon.) Serve with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche.

                Besides being delicious, this recipe has the virtue that the quantities are so easy to remember; ONE cup flour, ONE cup sugar, ONE stick butter, ONE teaspoon baking powder, TWO eggs. No fractions... it works with other fruit but they're usually either too juicy (apricots) or not juicy enough (apples)--prune plums are perfect.

                1. re: rootlesscosmo

                  This is a great cake. But a warning: do not use any other kind of plums, they are too juicy. The first time I made it I didn't use Italian prune plums, it was too early in the season. The ones I used gave off so much juice that the cake never set up.

                  1. re: susu

                    That was pretty much what happened when I tried it with apricots. OK pudding, but pudding, not cake.

                  2. re: rootlesscosmo

                    this recipe is deservedly famous it is so delicious that my kids and sister - to whom I have not served it for years - still remember and request it.

                2. I've been baking this cake weekly since prune plums have been available this season. It is SO delicious and easy and folks adore it. I made a big sheet of it, quadrupled the recipe, for a party last week. My bubby made it every year for the Jewish holidays. I add the rind of 2 lemons to the proportions for batter in the above recipe which really zings it up!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: missclaudy

                    You're right, I forgot to mention tossing the plum halves with lemon zest and/or juice, along with cinnamon sugar, before putting them on the layer of cake batter.

                    1. re: rootlesscosmo

                      Actually, I add the zest to the batter when mixing the cake and juice of 1 lemon to the plums .