Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SWEET PRESERVATION: Pickled Italian Plums

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Preserved and Pickled is honored to have been chosen as a Canbassador for the Washington State Fruit Commission. Well, not just honored, tickled pink actually.

What exactly is the Canbassador program, you might ask? Well, I received a box of stone fruit from Washington State which I was encouraged to preserve (like I needed encouragement), blog about my efforts, and use as a resource.

The Sweet Preservation website is Washington State Fruit Commission’s blog dedicated to the art of preserving fruit, and really is chock full of useful information. This fun and flattering assignment certainly bore some fruitful results (pun totally intended!).

Even before my box of stone fruit arrived, I was studiously reviewing the Sweet Preservation website, as well as perusing two new canning cookbooks I had recently acquired. The first, an updated Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine, discovered when I was out shopping with my mother, provided me with a Pickled Plum Recipe; the second was Jams, Jellies and Marmalades by Linda Arendt which Paul gave me as a gift; a wonderful primer or creative stimulus depending on your level of experience, for preserving, obviously, jams, jellies and marmalades.

I wasn’t exactly sure what quantities or kinds of fruit I would be receiving, all I was sure of was that it would be stone fruits from Washington State. I assumed peaches, which I was all ready to transform into a Peach Jam, one of my personal favorites, and hoped for plums as I had been wanting to try an old fashioned Pickled Plum.

Here is a Pickled Plum recipe from 1922:

Take 5 lb. ripe plums, 1 quart vinegar, 1 lb. sugar, 1 cupful of treacle, 2 oz. cloves, 3 chillies; wipe and prick the plums carefully with a fork, and place in earthenware jars.

Boil all ingredients for a quarter of an hour.

Pour the boiling liquid over the plums, and cover them at once.

Do not attempt to use them for one week, when their condition will be excellent.

Pickled Plums are traditionally served as an accomaniment to grilled pork, ham, or a cold roast beef platter.  The leftover syrup can be used as a basting sauce for spareribs or a home made barbeque sauce.

Not only did I receive fragrant peaches, and pretty little purple Italian plums, but big, bright nectarines as well. So without further adieu, I present to you the first recipe from my fabulous stone-fruit-sweet-preservation canning spree.

If you haven’t preserved fruit before, or would simply like to review safe canning practices visit Sweet Preservations’ link, Preservation 101. You can also review safe canning practices for using a Hot Water Bath here.

Peaches, Nectarines and Italian Plums from Starr Ranch Growers, Wenatchee, Washington.
To learn more about Starr Ranch Growers click here




2 1/2 to 3 lbs Italian Plums

1 1/2 inch  fresh Ginger, roughly chopped

1 hot Chilies, dried

2 whole Cloves

1 Cinnamon Stick (broken into pieces)

2 teaspoon Dried Citrus Zest (or 1 long Orange Peel)

1/2 teaspoon dried Nutmeg

3 1/2 cups lightly packed Brown Sugar

1 cups Cider Vinegar

1/2 cup Water


Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Tie the Ginger, Chilies, Cloves, Cinnamon Stick and Orange Zest  in a square of cheesecloth creating a spice bag.

In a non-reactive saucepan combine brown sugar, vinegar, water and nutmeg, along with the spice bag and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has completely dissolved; about 10 minutes.

Wash the plums and prick each plum 6 times with a toothpick.

Place the plums in a baking dish, pour syrup over plums.  Cover tightly and place in pre-heated oven until plums are tender but still firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully pack the plums into hot, sterilized jars.

Pour syrup over plums leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Tap jars to remove air bubbles. Wipe the off rim, seal with hot sterilized lids. 

TIP: Fill each jar with syrup a little at a time.  If short, add a bit more cider vinegar to baking dish and warm slightly over stove top. Add to jars.

Place in Hot Water Bath 15 minutes, remove and rest on counter until cool.

Check the jars are sealed; keep shelved for at least two weeks before using.

Makes 4 pints or 2 quarts.

While I do believe in buying locally whenever possible, I also realize that shopping year-round at the grocery store, where  produce may or may not be from local sources, is a fact of life for millions of people. In a global market, purchasing fruits and vegetables produced here in America could still be considered 'local' (in the 'global' scheme), and is certainly still supporting American farmers and economy.


  1. Congratulations!!!! You should be proud...I'm proud of you. Did the pickles again and posted about it this week, also linked to your site. I've been making pizza dough and sauce. Also busy with my canning. Been trying to get to your fried chicken recipe promised hubby it was coming.......soon

    1. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your support and kind words, and thank you for your link with the pickle recipe. I love the fact that you added some peppers into the mix. Great idea! I slipped some yellow squash into one of my batches this year. Love that ivory scarf you have pictured on your blog. Did you knit that. Really lovely.

  2. I have a group of about 20 women who meet once a week to stitch and bitch It's a do drop in at a local Panera and the scarf was done by an 82 year old lady who has someone drive her 20 miles everyweek because she just loves to see us.

  3. making these today..Thankyou for posting recipe and pictures..!