HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >



  • f

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?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    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: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

            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 .

                  2. A friend of mine introduced me to her plum chutney using these plums - we made it together last year and are about due to make our next batch soon. Don't remember the recipe, but will get and post - really delicious with pork and roast chicken. Just finishing off last year's batch.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: MMRuth

                      MMRuth - did you ever post this anywhere? They are back in season and your recipe sounds great!

                      1. re: meatn3

                        MMRuth referenced an upcoming vacation in a recent post so she may not see your question. Have you looked at this?: http://www.chow.com/recipes/11048

                        1. re: greygarious

                          I'm here, I'm here ... counting down the days. I don't think I ever got the recipe, but will check, and also ask my friend if she has it in an easy form to send to me.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Here's a link to it - NYT in 1973! You have to be a user on the site, and I'm not sure if I get to see this for free because I'm also a subscriber, or not. I'll paraphrase and post a bit later.


                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Thanks for finding it. It is not available for the free access - perhaps since it is such an old archive. Looking forward to your paraphrase when you have time!
                              Have a great vacation!

                    2. I made the plum ginger crisp from Epicurious last night using Italian prune plums. I added crystallized ginger from Trader Joe's directly to the plums. It was very different and very good.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JessWil

                        Has anyone ever simmered plums in ginger beer?


                      2. I make a plum "ketchup" that is great on meatloaf, turkey burgers, and great on grilled chicken. (Originally from Eating Well Magazine, although it's not on their website.)


                        1. Has anyone ever heard of using these Italian plums to make tsimmes? My husband has been longing for his grandmother's tsimmes for years, but we could never figure out what his grandmother meant by "sour plums" but this is obviously it, these little Italian plums, which I just saw on Monday at my local grocery. I am going to rush off and buy some, in hopes that a chowhound will have or point me to a recipe-- another longstanding impediment to making this dish.

                          As my husband recalls, it had brisket, white potatoes in chunks, carrots, and the plums, and it sounds like it was braised (of course he was too young to know any of the details the last time he ate it, years ago). What herbs or spices or other ingredients might I add to this?

                          TIA for any suggestions.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Anne H

                            It's a great idea, though I can't offer any tips. Those plums really come alive when you cook them.

                          2. I'm drooling just with the memory of a prune cake, which is off limits to me now. Italian prunes, as I recall, can be brandied or pickled, but I can't find a recipe at the moment. They also make very good jam. Madelaine Bulwinkle gives one for Italian Plum Preserves in her book Gourmet Preserves Chez Madelaine. She calls for 3 pounds Italian plums quartered and pitted, 1 cup water, sugar, and 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice. What she has you do, essentially, is make a prune jelly and then suspend the stewed fruit pieces in it. Combine water and plums in a heavy, non-reactive 5 quart pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a steady simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Strain juices for 15 minutes and measure. Set aside an equal amount of sugar. Bring juices to a boil, pour in one tablespoonful of lemon juice and then begin adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the mixture to return to a boil before adding more. [Hint, it helps to warm the sugar in a low oven.] Continue cooking until the liquid reaches the jell point (220 F--5 to 10 minutes. Off the heat stir the plum quarter into the hot jelly and steep for 15 minutes. Return the preserves to a boil and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1/2 cup sugar. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and reduce the liquid until it reaches 215 degrees. Put in jars in the usual way. I've paraphrased her recipe. The book is really worth getting used. The prunes should have enough pectin in them that you don't have to add any. If you are nervous about that, Google "pectin test" and will get some sites that give specifics in mixing alcohol and a bit of the juice.
                            Susan Hermann Loomis gives a plum and vanilla jam recipe in her French Farmhouse Cookbook. It uses 5 lbs of Italian prune plums, pitted, and 7 cups of sugar, and 1 vanilla bean. Mix the fruit and sugar in a nonreactive pot, cover, and let sit 12 hours. This draws juice out of the fruit and sugar into the fruit. Add the vanilla bean to the plum mixture and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a low boil and skim off the foam. [With jam, but not jelly or preserves, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of unsalted butter to control the foam--but it will cloud jelly.] Cook until the jam has thickened to the desired consistency, which she says will be about 18 minutes. (Jelling point is normally 220--or you can check with a cold test plate, given in most jam-making books and probably in Joy of Cooking.)
                            Also, I've seen a book called A Culinary Journey in Gascony in which we are told that part of France uses prunes the way the south uses olives. Cooked prunes are particularly good with pork and poultry. About 40 years ago I made a prune-apricot stuffing for a turkey, but I have no recollection where I got the recipe. Joy of Cooking is a likely culprit. I probably used rehydrated dried fruit, but I don't see why fresh fruit wouldn't work since we put apples in stuffing. One final note, for jam-making purposes you can always freeze the prunes and use them later.

                            1. My very favorite recipe for using Italian Plums is to make a rich Sweet Roll Dough (made with yeast), Spread dough out on a large jellyroll tin. If plums ae really juicy I beat an egg white with a bit of cold water and brush it onto the surface. Give it some time to dry. And/Or, you can also sprinkle dry bread crumbs (or cookie crumbs). Then pit each plum and cut each one into quarters. Shingle plums over the top of the dough. Sprinkle sugar, cinnamon and a bit of nut meg. Dot all over with bits of butter, or sour cream, and bake.

                              This is what is known as a German Plum Cake, or Zwetschgekuchen. Wonderful as a dessert, or for morning coffee cake.

                              1. I am going to make the plum buckle recipe from this site but with the prune plums for a dinner tonight. And then come to find out my sweetheart doesn't like plums so I'm making a smaller one for him but with peaches or nectarines. I think I won't mix them into the batter because they would be too juicy but put them on the top. Or maybe even better make an upside down cake with the peaches so the juice doesn't drip into the batter. Yes, that's the ticket.

                                I'll let you know how they turn out.

                                Here is the plum buckle recipe:


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: karykat

                                  I did make this plum buckle yesterday with prune plums and it was very good. It was not too sweet and was easy to make. I made more of the batter and also made a small peach one by putting peach slices over the top and then some of the topping. And it was very good and pretty too.

                                2. super easy fruit cobbler -- in the future, as i see your plums are probably gone now. the recipe is mine, in my recipes and favorites (cannot link just now). i just recently did a plum-peach combo, which was quite nice.

                                  1. I make a plum crisp....i am almost positive that I use Martha Stewart's recipe but it could possibly be Anna Olson's. In any case, you can more or less follow any crisp recipe and it comes out really great!

                                    1. I pickled tham in a sugar vinegar thin syrup and added a cinnamon stick to each jar. Pickling spice would be great in there too. I have made lots of preserves in the past and these are my very favorite. GREAT with chicken, meat or on a cheese sandwhich.

                                      1. italian plum tart - use a little extra sugar to macerate them a bit and add sweetness. I make one every year.

                                        1. This is a recipe from a chef who was in Rochester, MN for a 3 day food event. Monique Hooker was the chef and this was the meal she prepared using Italian plums. The flavor of the cooked plums are wonderful.
                                          Braised Pork Roast with carrots and Italian Plums
                                          One 3 pound boneless pork loin
                                          3 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
                                          2 tbsp butter
                                          2 tbsp olive oil
                                          4 carrots, trimmed and cut into 1/3” pieces
                                          12 whole pearl onions or 2 medium onions peeled and quartered
                                          1 sachet* Do NOT skip this!
                                          12 Italian plums** cut in half, pit removed.
                                          2 cups beef broth
                                          *Sachet: in a 3 inch square of cheesecloth add: 1 garlic clove smashed, ½ tsp peppercorns, 1 tsp cried thyme, 1 bay leave and 4 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley. Bundle together and tie with string. I usually make a few of these to keep on hand for soups and stews.
                                          ** Italian plums are available in the late summer; if not available you can substitute dried prunes or quartered apples.
                                          Make 12 small cuts all over the roast. Insert the garlic into the incisions.
                                          Melt butter and add olive oil in a dutch oven, then brown the pork loin on all sides including the ends. Cover and cook gently over very low heat ( cut a circle of parchment paper the diameter of the dutch oven and cover pork loin with it, this keeps the moisture from rising to the top of the dutch oven, then cover with lid for dutch oven) cook for 25 minutes turning the meat occasionally. Place the carrots and onions around the pork loin, drop in the sachet, cover and cook again for 25 minutes or until the meat flakes easily with a fork. Arrange the plums around the roast, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the pork loin from the pan and keep warm in low oven (250). Add the stock and reduce 10 minutes. Discard the sachet. Reduce the sauce more if not thick enough.
                                          To serve place the pork loin sliced in the middle of the platter and surround with vegetables. Add some of the sauce and pass the remaining.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: lamfmntx

                                            I love the plum cake/tart recipes that use almond meal - frangipan

                                            Here are some really good ones:

                                            Breakfast Lunch Tea (Rose Bakery cookbook) has a great apricot and almond tart that is great with plums. I've made it several time. p. 122

                                            Bert Greene's Kitchen Bouquet, p. 257 - Balzano Plum Cake

                                            Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert, p. 75 - Plum and Almond Tart and p. 106-107 - Rustic Plum Tart (with or without sour cream topping)

                                            These are all great recipes, especially the Rose Bakery tart, and I'll be glad to paraphrase if anybody is interested.