Stewed plums are a really quick and easy way to prepare plums in a sweet syrup with a hint of spice. The quick cook softens them and brings out the best in their flavor. They're perfect for breakfast with yogurt or make them dessert with ice cream. Tender and delicious.
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It may just be my perception, but peaches seem to be the stone fruit that gets most of the attention in the US. Much as I enjoy them, it does seem a bit of a shame to overlook the others which can be delicious, too.
Plums in particular are so incredibly juicy and flavorful. You can use them in both sweet and savory dishes since the flavor pairs well with meats. Some of my favorite plum recipes include German plum cake, plum crumble, made into plum jam as well as added to salads.
These simple stewed plums are probably one of the easiest ways to prepare them (other than eating them just as they are) that help to bring out the best in them. Juicy, flavorful and great enjoyed in a variety of ways.
Where are plums from?
Plums are native to a few regions of the world and have been cultivated for thousands of years. These days, there are huge a large number of subspecies and hybrid varieties grown in various places in Asia, the Americas and Europe. Though experts believe all derive from two main species, the European plum and Japanese plum.
Plums have many traditional culinary uses, some of which help to preserve them for longer pike drying them (as prunes), making them into wine or brandy and cooking into jam or sauces.
This method maybe doesn't preserve them quite as long, unless you freeze them, but it is incredible easy and tasty, so well worth making when plums are at their best.
Poached or stewed plums?
Poaching and stewing are cooking methods that can be confused at times since both are "wet" methods of cooking. And to be fair, it's a small nuance that is more obvious for some things than others.
Both methods involve cooking whatever your main ingredient is in a liquid, but poaching should keep the shape and texture of the food intact. So poached chicken, for example, simply cooks it through - it should be moist but not falling apart. Poached pears are typically whole, or at least as halves, and are tender but again not overly soft.
Stewing, meanwhile, aims to make what you are cooking soft and tender. Hence meat stews cook low and slow so the meat is fall off the bone tender.
With plums, its pretty tricky to cook them so that they don't become soft, so stewing is most likely the more appropriate term. Though you could argue they are almost poached plums since you leave the halves intact. Whichever term you prefer to use, you are looking to cook them until they are gently soft, making them both flavorful and really easy to eat.
Selecting plums for stewing
You can use pretty much any variety of plum for stewing, but you may want to bear in mind the variety's natural sweetness. Some varieties are sweeter than others, so you may need to adjust the amount of sugar you use accordingly.
I suggest using ripe but not overly ripe plums - so just soft, slightly firm rather than squidgy for most varieties. If they are too ripe, it can be tricky to remove the stone and depending on the variety, they can fall apart as you try to do so. I also sometimes find the flavor is more muted as it's all sweet rather than sweet-tart.
If they are under-ripe, the sweetness hasn't come through as much so they will be more tart. This isn't necessarily bad for stewing, but you will probably need to use a little more sugar to cook them in. You probably won't get quite as much syrup forming, either.
Top tip: preparing plums for stewing
You only need to halve and remove the stone from the plums to prepare them for stewing. The best way to cut them open is to find the natural line on the fruit and cut along that. This lines up with the thinner edge of the stone so it's easier to remove.
Leave the skin on as it's fine to eat after cooking (plus tricky to peel before). If you don't like the skin texture, you can remove it later a lot easier (plus, the skin helps the plums hold their form better).
How to stew plums
While you can add everything to the pan all together, I recommend making the syrup first. This both limits the chances of you burning the plums and also helps the syrup thicken a little more, too.
The syrup is simply water, sugar and orange juice, with a cinnamon stick added to infuse the mixture. You still want to get all the lovely plum flavor coming through, but the orange and cinnamon are great complimentary flavors. You could also use a star anise or add some vanilla.
Cook the plums in the syrup over a low heat so that the syrup is just gently simmering. This helps to avoid burning and also keeps the plum pieces intact. The juices gradually come out of the plums and mix into the syrup.
Then once the plums have softened, remove from the heat and take out the cinnamon stick. You can enjoy them warm or serve them cold, as you prefer.
How to store and use stewed plums
You can store stewed plums, in their syrup, in the fridge for up to four days. For longer storage, place them in a container with a good seal in the freezer for up to six months. Defrost them overnight in the fridge when you want to use them.
As mentioned, they work well both warm and cold and can be used in a variety of ways, including:
- Enjoy them for breakfast with some creamy plain Greek-style yogurt. If you like, some granola is a great addition for a bit of added crunch.
- Serve as a dessert either on their own or with some ice cream or custard.
- Use as a topping such as over rice pudding, on top of pancakes or with French toast.
- You can strain off the syrup and use the fruit under desserts like creme brûlée.
- Use stewed plums as the base for a crumble, cobbler or crisp (though bear in mind the additional cooking will make them very soft).
- Any leftover syrup is also delicious to use with pancakes etc as well as used as a simple syrup for drinks.
As I say, they are pretty versatile, so a great thing to make a batch of and use in various ways.
Stewed plums are a great way to use up a glut of plums when they are in season that needs only a few minutes and a few ingredients to make. You then have a deliciously flavorful fruit to use in breakfasts, desserts or store in the freezer for later. Definitely one to make and enjoy soon.
Try these other fruity ideas for breakfast:
- Tropical fruit salad
- Chocolate Dutch baby pancake with cherry compote
- Apple crepes
- Plus get more breakfast recipes in the archives.
- ¼ cup sugar or a little more, as needed
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tablespoon orange juice
- ½ cinnamon stick
- 1 lb plums
- Place the sugar, water, orange juice and cinnamon stick in a wide pot/pan with a lid. Cover and place over a medium-low heat. Stir now and then to help the sugar to dissolve and slowly bring to a simmer. You only want a relatively low heat so the cinnamon can infuse the liquid and so the sugar doesn't burn.
- Meanwhile, wash and cut the plums in half. Look for what seems like a join line or seam on the plum and cut along that as this will be the side of the stone inside. Gently twist the two halves of the plum to split it open then remove the stone, either with your hands or with the help of a knife if needed. Repeat with the rest of the plums.
- Once the orange syrup has come to a simmer, add the plum halves in a single layer skin side down. Cover and bring back to a simmer.
- Once simmering (or a little stronger is also fine), after around 5 - 10 minutes, remove the lid and allow to cook around another 5 - 10 minutes (so about 15 - 20 minutes in total) until the plums are fully tender. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- You can either serve the plums warm, chilled or room temperature. They work well just as they are, or also great for breakfast over plain yogurt (eg Greek-style), with some granola on the side if you like. Also good eg over pancakes or as a dessert with ice cream.
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