Of all the fruits I preserve in some way – freezing, canning, or drying – dried plums are probably my family’s favorite. They are simply a wonderful chewy-tart snack that we eat almost as fast as I can dry them.
And they are NOT prunes – they don’t have that off-putting texture or smell, nor that distinctive prune-like flavor. And I don’t care that the people who make prunes got together a few years ago and decided to call them “dried plums.” The dried plums I make don’t taste anything like their packaged product, so theirs are still prunes in my book.
When you start with Italian plums which are naturally drier (and more sweet-tart) than traditional round plums and dry them to a pliable, yet fully dry stage they are like small pieces of fruit leather. They may look odd (my teenage daughter’s friends all comment on how they look), but they are packed with flavor.
Drying plums is also one of the easiest preservation methods there is. I can fill my food dehydrator in about half an hour and then it’s a matter of checking, turning, and bagging the plums as they dry over the next 10 or so hours. The hands-on time is ridiculously minimal.
Here are the easy steps to dry Italian plums with a dehydrator:
- After washing, slice the plums in half all the way around the pit.
- Grab each half of a plum and twist gently to separate the halves. Remove and discard the pit.
- Place halves cut side down on the dehydrator tray (or cut-side up for less sticking – I can fit more in my dehydrator this way, that’s why I put them cut-side down). It’s OK to pack them close together.
- Dry according to manufacturer’s recommendations (I use an Excaliber dehydrator which I run at the maximum temperature of 145 degrees). Depending on the size of the plums, start checking them in 4 to 6 hours, turning trays as needed for even dehydrating. Once they are looking more dry, flip them over to complete drying (they’ll release from the trays the drier they are – leave them if they are too moist). Check every 2 hours, removing and packaging up any that are fully dry – showing NO moisture when touched, but are still pliable- and leaving the rest to complete drying.
When fully dried, pack the plums in glass jars or thick freezer baggies (using the straw trick with baggies to remove as much air as possible).
I store mine in our cupboards and have never had a problem with them molding, probably because we really prefer them on the drier side. My brother-in-law (who first introduced me to dried Italian plums) doesn’t dry his as long as I do, so he stores his in the freezer, just to be sure.
If you’re in doubt, a good test is to package your dried fruit up and leave them on the counter for a day or so – if there is any condensation at all in the jar or baggie, the fruit was not dried completely. Then you can choose to dry them some more or freeze them for longer storage.
Longer storage? That just doesn’t happen in our house. Last year I dried more than ever in an effort to have them longer than two months and we ate the last dried plum in January. No matter how we try, it’s hard to eat just one. Or even two…six…whatever.
Go ahead and try these – I dare you to eat just one.
This is linked to Pennywise Platter.