Plums: Picking, Cooking & Preserving Late Summer’s Bounty

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Plums always remind me of a good friend who, when wincing on a hospital bed after a vasectomy gone wrong was bought a pair of plums in a brown paper bag by his visiting mate.

A pair of plums

A pair of plums

Enough! Sorry. Are your plums dripping this year? Last year we had four, whereas this year we have four thousand, or thereabouts. It’s a great year for plums!

It's been a great year for plums!

It’s been a great year for plums!

The tree is so overladen, that one of the boughs has snapped and we have made a mental note that we must do better with the pruning next Spring. I’ll make sure I put a post over in The Bridge Cottage Garden section in plenty of time next Spring with photos when we do ours.

Pruning Plums

Plum trees should be pruned in Spring or early summer to avoid the frost getting in through open wounds and causing silver leaf damage. It’s the usual pruning advice – take any growth that is crossing or growing inwards and cut back other branches by a third. You are aiming for a goblet shape. However, here’s a link from the good peeps at the RHS who will be far more expert at this than us.

Pruning Plum Trees from the RHS.

Picking Plums

Tim's Plum Grabber

Tim’s Plum Grabber

Watch out for wasps! Tim’s made a handy grabber using a recycled milk carton with ‘monster’ teeth cut in and stuck it on a pole. Heath Robinson would be proud. Who was Heath Robinson you ask? It’s a saying, isn’t it, and a quick look down the Google tube and The History Press tells me, ‘ William Heath Robinson remains one of Britain’s best-loved illustrators and has embedded himself into English vernacular, inspiring the phrase ‘it’s all a bit Heath Robinson’ to describe any precarious or unnecessarily complex contraption.’ But it worked! I also made it a reel on Instagram – how cool am I?

Cooking and Preserving Plums

Nanny's Shop

Nanny’s Shop

So, what to do with all these plums? This year we’ve had so many, that we’ve simply halved and stoned several bagfuls and popped them straight in the freezer to be dealt with later. We’ve popped a table out front, and my granddaughter is very excited to be helping with ‘Nanny’s Shop’. Takes me right back to my childhood when I’d help my grandmother sell her spare garden produce and bedding out plants. ,

Plum Jam

Plum Jam

There’s jam of course, and plum jam is a favourite, spread on crumpets or hot buttered toast, taking me back to my mother’s Victoria plum jam of my childhood. I’ve made a double batch using 4kg plums and 4kg sugar. I followed the Good Food Recipe. However, I see from Pam Corbin’s new book of Preserves that there is a lower sugar version with her plum spread. I’ve been a fan of Pam Corbin’s original book of Preserves for years, and love this new edition, with lots of lower sugar and up-to-date recipes.

Plum Compote or Stewed Plums

Plum Compote or Stewed Plums

Plum compote is a must, or what my mum would call stewed plums in a more down-to-earth manner. We have homemade yoghurt right through the year with cooked fruit and I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, you’ll be so glad you went to the effort of cooking and freezing bags of fruit in February when the winds are whistling through the cracks in the door and the snow is piling high outside. We like to add star anise and or cinnamon to our cooked fruit but be careful to pick out the star anise before you munch. I think it has a taste of the dentist about it if you crunch a piece.

Plums can be baked whole in the oven, making it very easy to plop out the stone. Or you can halve them, remove the stones and cook in a pan. It’s up to you, but I do like the flavour gained from roasting.

Picking, Cooking & Preserving, Late Summer's Plums

Picking, Cooking & Preserving, Late Summer’s Plums

Plum chutney is a lovely alternative to mango chutney with curry and we have two recipes we use. This year, we’ve made Mrs Portly’s Plum and Ginger Chutney. Linda Duffin aka Mrs Portly’s Kitchen is a wonderful source of inspiration for seasonal recipes and eating. Do check her out – she’s on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Nigel Slater is another favourite chef in this house, and his plum chutney and Chinese Plum Sauce are both delicious. Our daughter particularly likes the plum sauce – great in a stir fry. Nigel Slater – Plum Recipes

The Bridge Cottage Way Amaretto and Plum Crumble

The Bridge Cottage Way Amaretto and Plum Crumble

I asked a question over on Twitter this week from the domestic goddess that is Nigella Lawson (if I ever met her, I would have a total fan girl moment) after I was experimenting with plums and a bottle of Amaretto. I asked if she would put meringue or crumble atop of cooked plums? ‘I’m old school’ she replied and went for crumble. Another follower suggested a frangipane, and that’s this afternoon’s job – to make a plum frangipane cake. If you follow me on social media, I’ll share the result.

So, here’s my plum crumble recipe. It’s a favourite and any leftovers can be had for breakfast with yoghurt. My question to you would be, custard, cream or ice cream? My father would just say, yes, please!


The Bridge Cottage Way Amaretto Plum Crumble.

Half kg ripe plums

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

4 tbsp Amaretto liqueur (optional – 1 tsp cinnamon would be an alternative)

150 g plain flour

75g butter

2 tbsp soft brown sugar

Preheat oven to 180 deg/160 deg fan/ gas mark 4

Wash then halve plums, removing stones. Toss in a bowl with Amaretto and sugar, then place in an oven proof dish in the oven while you prepare the top.

Rub the flour and butter together until it resembles breadcrumbs using your fingers, and then stir in the sugar.

Gently spread over the plums and bake for a further 15-20 mins or until golden brown on the top.

Serve with natural yoghurt, cream, ice cream or custard!


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You might enjoy some of the writing and ideas in other sections of this website, as we look towards leading more sustainable lives by growing our own food and creating dishes in line with seasonal eating, or head to our handy ‘Month by Month’ guides to find out what we have been doing here at Bridge Cottage as the months go by:

Many thanks for reading.

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Tim & Sue in the Bridge Cottage Way garden

2 replies
  1. Linda Duffin
    Linda Duffin says:

    Hello! Thanks for the very kind words, I’m glad you enjoy the recipes. Like you, we’re awash with plums this year so it’s always good to have a few fresh ideas in one’s kitchen armoury. Nifty idea from your husband, btw.

    • Sue Reed
      Sue Reed says:

      Hi Linda,
      You’re very welcome. I do feel we sing off the same hymn sheet and your recipes are always amazing! I use the redcurrant and almond cake mix so often – going to try it with plums this week.
      While we’re chatting – I want to run an idea past you, and ask your permission for something. It may never actually come to fruition and may never get an agent/publisher, but I have an idea for a novel I want to write, and I’d love to have my main character called Mrs Portly. It would be called Mrs Portly Has A Gap Year and is about a retired teacher who leaves her boring husband and life and disappears to Italy for a year. It’s about looking for love in all the wrong places. I haven’t started it yet – it’s just a notion. However, as I got the inspiration for my main character’s name from you, I thought it only fair to ask you first. What do you feel? I wouldn’t want to tread on your toes, but it could be advantageous to you too in terms of publicity?
      Let me know what you think. I won’t be offended if you’re horrified by the prospect!
      All the very best
      Sue x


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