These pickled plums may be my favorite new preserve of this summer. They are a bit sweet, slightly spiced, and super tangy. Much like other pickled fruit, they are something of a two for one product, because once the fruit is gone, you can pour the flavorful syrup into sparkling water or use it to flavor batches of homemade vinaigrette.
Like all pickled fruit, this recipe works best if you start with fruit that is just slightly underripe. You want to choose fruit that has plenty of flavor and a bit of give, but still has enough robustness to retain the integrity of the slices once they’ve simmered for a bit.
I kept the spices relatively restrained in this pickle, bundling up just star anise, whole cloves, black peppercorns, and a little crushed red chili flake for heat. Because spices are always the place where can personalize a preserve, if you make this one on your own, feel free to take that cheese cloth packet in any direction you’d like.
A short length of cinnamon stick would have fit in nicely and a few gently crushed cardamom pods would also play nicely.
If the plums are already gone in your area, don’t think that your opportunities for pickled fruit are over. You could try this with tender slices of pears or hunks of soft fleshed apple (a golden delicious would be a nice choice).
Looking for more pickled fruit? I’ve got so many other seasonal options for you! Naturally sweetened apple date chutney. Honey sweetened peach chutney (make it while the peaches last!). Pickled asian pears (this recipe is from Karen Solomon’s gorgeous book Asian Pickles). Persimmon and pear chutney (persimmons will be here soon). Pear chutney with dried cherries and ginger. Pickled cranberries (the. best.).
Pickled Italian Plums
- 4 pounds Italian plums
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 star anise
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold 4 pints of product.
- Cut plums in half and cut each half into 4-6 wedges.
- Pile sliced plums into a low, wide pan, add the sugar and apple cider vinegar, and stir to combine.
- Bundle the spices up in a length of cheesecloth or tuck them into a non-reactive tea ball and add them to the pan.
- Place the pan on the stove and bring it to a boil. Cook at a vigorous bubble for 5-6 minutes, until the syrup thickens and the fruit softens (but try to stop cooking before the slices start to disintegrate).
- Using a slotted spoon, funnel the fruit into jars and then top each jar off with the syrup, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace.
- Tap jars to loosen air bubbles and adjust syrup levels, as needed.
- Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 20 minutes.
- When time is up, remove jars from canner and place on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- If jars begin siphoning their syrup when you first remove them from the canning pot, pop them back into the water. Slide the pot off the hot burner and let the jars cool more gradually in the pot.
- Once jars have had a chance to cool to room temperature on their towel, check the seals by pushing on the lids. If they are firm and without wiggle, the seals are good.
- Sealed jars are shelf stable for at least a year.