Sugar plums are just comfits. Not plums. I know that. But I still wanted to make sugared plums.
TO DRIE APRICOCKS, PEACHES, PIPPINS OR PEARPLUMS
Take your apricocks or pearplums, & let them boile one walme in as much clarified sugar as will cover them, so let them lie infused in an earthen pan three days, then take out your fruits, & boile your syrupe againe, when you have thus used them three times then put half a pound of drie sugar into your syrupe, & so let it boile till it comes to a very thick syrup, wherein let your fruits boile leysurelie 3 or 4 walmes, then take them foorth of the syrup, then plant them on a lettice of rods or wyer, & so put them into yor stewe, & every second day turne them & when they be through dry you may box them & keep them all the year; before you set them to drying you must wash them in a litlle warme water, when they are half drie you must dust a little sugar upon them throw a fine Lawne.
–– Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book, 1604
Full confession, I didn’t follow this very closely. I might try this again but stay more true to the recipe.
I had some nice Italian prunes (fresh ones, not dried ones; dried prunes is not redundant, prunes are a specific category of plum) that I wanted to try this with. I carefully pulled each one apart, pulled out its stone, and placed them skin up in a single layer in a heavy saucepan. Then I covered them with sugar, covered the pan, and turned the heat to very low. I let them heat without stirring them at all until they had exuded their own juice and the sugar was fully dissolved. I took the lid off, resisted the urge to stir them, and kept cooking until the sugar had made a thick, bubbly syrup.
I took the plums off the heat and let them cool just a bit, then transferred them to a cookie sheet with a Silpat. I dried them in a warm oven for 2 hours, then transferred them to my food dehydrator. I dried them, checking periodically, for several hours, until they were nearly dry but still gummy. Then I took the still sticky plums and and rolled them in sugar. Finally, I let them sit in the sugar for multiple days until they were fully dry.
Here are the finished plums: