Monday, September 5, 2016

Plum Job

I promised some posts on what we were doing with our fruit. This year, I tried a couple new things with plums. Both turned out really well, if I do say so myself. (And I do. So there.)

I don't know the exact variety that's growing in our yard, but it looks like some kind of Italian prune plum - small, oblong, and freestone. They grow like crazy around here, and there's a point every summer where people seem to start getting a little overwhelmed about what to do with them all. My favorite kind of problem to have!

First up, super easy (but kinda slow and messy) - dried plums. (Don't call them prunes in front of my husband, or he'll feel old and refuse to eat them.)

Halve or quarter the plums, discarding the pits. The smaller the section, the faster the drying time, and the smaller and chewier the final product.

"Pop" the sections by putting your thumb on the roundest part of the outside and pushing up - basically turning the plum inside-out. The Almighty Internet tells me that this helps them to dry faster, and I figured it couldn't do any harm, so I went with it. I don't know how helpful it actually was.

I don't have a dehydrator, and let's be honest, you probably don't either. No problem! We both have ovens. Set the oven to 135F or the lowest it will go - ours won't work below 170, and everything turned out fine. I saw some sources recommending leaving the door cracked with a fan pointing in to speed drying. However, thanks to the culinary and kitchen design wisdom of my mother, my oven has a convection setting. So we just used that.

Put the plum sections on a Silat or parchment lined baking sheet, or on a tray above a baking sheet for better air circulation. Pop them in the oven.

Not gonna lie, posting this picture makes me identify a little with Georgia O'Keeffe.
Now the hard part - waiting! My trays took about 8 hours to dry. I saw estimates that ranged anywhere from 6 to 36 hours, depending on your methods, so use your judgement. Either way, I highly recommend not getting overexcited and starting this project at 5pm. Not that I would ever do such a thing.

Plum perfect! 
Drying concentrates the sugars, so the dried plums will taste sweeter than fresh. Let your prunes cool, put them in an airtight container in the fridge, and enjoy a sweet healthy snack that will make everyone else's afternoon yogurt feel jealous. 

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