Make your own dried plums that are definitely NOT your mother’s prunes! Our family can’t get enough of these chewy-tart delicious snacks.
Of all the fruits I preserve, whether by freezing, canning, or drying, dried plums are probably our family’s favorite. While they might not look like much, they have a wonderful sweet-tart flavor that makes a snack we eat almost as fast as I can dry them.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking, “Is she talking about prunes?”
All I can say is that while they are technically prunes, they are also NOT prunes – not the store-bought prunes we all think of. They don’t have that off-putting wet, squishy texture, smell, or that distinctive prune-like flavor. Everyone who tastes them agrees, too.
(And I don’t care that the companies 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 to me!)
Surprising Health Benefits of Dried Plums
While we know that dried plums are a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and contain psyllium for digestive health, among other things, there are current studies that show that eating dried plums daily can have an impact on bone health. I was so excited when I learned this since I loved them already (well, my version that is)! If that weren’t enough, there are even a few studies that indicated that it may even reverse bone loss – which is kind of amazing.
Even more reasons to dry your own plums, right?
Which plums make the best dried plums?
I think all plums will make a better dried plum at home since you’re able to dry them to reach a firmer product. But that sweet-tart flavor we love comes from Italian “prune” plums (also Damson plums, which are a bit tarter, but we still love) which are naturally drier and tart than traditional round plums.
When you dry these European plums to a still pliable, yet fully dry stage they are like small pieces of fruit leather. Some people may think they 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 a 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.
How to Dry Plums
Here are the easy steps to make dried plums (affiliate links included where appropriate):
- 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 Excalibur 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.
Can I Dry Plums in an Oven?
Yes! Though I personally have never dried plums in an oven, a reader let me know that she baked the halves at 180 degrees for 8 hours and they came out nice and chewy. You’ll still need to test doneness, since larger sized plums may take more time, but it’s a good starting point if you don’t have a dehydrator!
Storing Your Dried Plums
When fully dried (see tip below if you’re unsure), pack the plums in glass jars or freezer baggies (using the straw trick to remove as much air as possible). You have a couple of options on where to store them:
- In a cool damp area at room temperature. I store my baggies in our cupboards and have never had a problem with them molding, probably because we really prefer them on the drier side.
- In the freezer. 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.
TIP: How to Test to See if Fruit is Dry Enough for Room Temperature Storage:
If you’re in doubt, a good test is to package a sample of 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 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.
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