Candied Plums Sequel: A Photo Tutorial

Those candied plums I made last year turned out to be one of the most incredible foods that has ever come forth from my hands. They took on a mystical life of their own, each day growing more delicious and more scarce. I hoarded them. I dreamed about them. When I ran out (in, I think, February or so), I obsessed over them. 

So when a vendor at my farmers market had Italian prunes, I may have gone overboard. This year, I took photos of the whole process, which I’m sharing in the hopes that they will help you make your own candied plums:

Plums split in half, put in a pot, and covered in sugar, before cooking. 

Plums split apart in a (different) pot. 

Sugar has gone over the first layer of plums and a second layer added. 

The second layer fully covered as well. 

Cook, covered, on very low heat. The sugar will eventually all dissolve. 

Keep cooking… Once the sugar is fully dissolved, remove the lid. 

Cook the plums until they look like this:

Ready for the next part. 

Carefully fish each plum out. 

Place on rack in dehydrator. 

Tongs also work. The plums will be hot and sticky. 

This picture is before drying, I think. I don’t seem to have an after drying picture, but they get darker and stickier. 

Roll the dried plums in sugar. 

Pack in sugar and store. Be patient: they seem to just get better and better with age. 

Yes, those are half gallons. I made a lot. They’re all packed up and safely moved to storage (so I won’t just eat these in a single, gloriously regrettable sitting). I have an unholy quantity of plum syrup. 

Funny story, I went out to a bunch of fruit farms yesterday…

…and bought like 4 more pounds of plums. 

This time, I’m following the period recipe a little more closely. I look forward to comparing the different results!


Candied Plums

Sugar plums are just comfits. Not plums. I know that. But I still wanted to make sugared plums.


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:

As an added bonus, this yielded an amazing plum syrup which I could pretty much eat with a spoon.