Depending on the weather, plums are ripe in early to mid-September. Start checking around Labor Day to see if we have a start date as the plum season can go quickly depending on the crop size. We grow Italian blue and purple plums which are available for pick-your-own only and sold by the pound. Italian plums look much different than the commonly available plums found in our supermarkets. Italian plums are about the size of a half dollar, and they have an oblong shape. Removing the pit is fairly easy with these plums because they are a freestone pit, meaning that the pit pops out. These plums are known for their sweet flavor that becomes deeper with baking. Plums should be stored in the fridge and used within 1-2 weeks and use the softer ones first.
Did you pick too many plums and now you need ideas? Please see below for some of our favorite recipes!
History of Italian Plums
Italian plums are native to the the Mediterranean coastal regions of Italy, and although they are named after their country of origin, they are not a favorite there. Instead, these plums are a hit in Germany and are featured in many German desserts. 41 percent of Germans say that the plum is their favorite fruit!
Picking Italian plums, or Zwetschgen, is a German end-of-summer ritual. But Germans value the plums for more than just eating. The dried fruits are turned in to plum people dolls that are popular in Christmas markets. The plum people dolls are symbols of good luck, with the thought that you will never be without gold and/or happiness if you have a plum person in your house.
- ½ cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, soften
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 10 Italian plums, halved and pitted
- 1 cup white sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 7×11-inch baking dish.
Beat 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons butter together in a bowl using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Mix eggs, 1 cup flour, baking powder, and salt into creamed butter mixture; stir in vanilla. Pour batter into the prepared baking dish. Arrange plums, skin side-down, atop batter.
Mix 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 3 tablespoons butter, and cinnamon together in a bowl until crumbly; spoon over batter and plums.
Bake in the preheated oven until plums are softened, about 35 minutes.
Authentic Zwetschgenkuchen (German Plum Cake)
3 + pounds Italian plums, cut into quarters, pits removed
- 1 cup warm milk , *start with 3/4 and add extra to the dough as needed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter (1/2 cup melted but not hot)
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- For the Streusel:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
Dissolve the yeast into the 3/4 cup warm milk and let is sit for 5-10 minutes until frothy.
Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and pour in the yeast mixture, melted warm (not hot) butter, eggs and vanilla extract. Give it an initial stir to combine the ingredients and then attach a dough hook and knead it on the bread setting (“2”) for 4-5 minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup milk as necessary. (The dough will be sticky but should hold together fairly well. It will not be firm enough to knead into a ball, think of it more as a thick batter.) Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and set it in a warm, draft free place to rise for an hour or until about doubled in size.
Generously butter a German Backblech extended to full length or a large jelly roll pan (at least 18 inches in length and 1 inch sides but even then the crust will be thicker than with the Backblech).
Use your hands to spread the dough out across the full length of the pan, pressing it up against the sides. (It’s yeast dough so it will resist, but just keep pushing it back into position the best you can. Once you put the plums on it, those will help keep it in place.) Lay the plums close together in rows over the whole length of the dough on the sheet pan.
Set the pan in a warm place and let it rise for up to another hour.
To make the streusel: Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and use your fingers to bring it all together. Work with the mixture until it’s thoroughly combined and forms a rough sand and clumpy texture. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the cake.
Bake the cake on the middle rack of the oven preheated to 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden.
Let the cake sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing to let some of the liquid set. Slice the cake into squares and serve.
- 1 lb plums, pitted and chopped
- ¼ c apple cider vinegar
- ½ c brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 ½ Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ star anise
- 1/8 tsp dried chile flakes
- Combine pitted and chopped plums with the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat.
- Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the plum skins are very soft, 20 min.
- Remove the pan from the heat and remove the half star anise. Puree the mixture with a stick blender until smooth. (Or, let the mixture cool slightly and transfer it to a blender and blend until smooth).
- Return the mixture to the heat and bring it to a hard simmer over medium high heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. Cooking until the sauce is thick and jammy, roughly 20 minutes. Actual cook time and will vary depending on the juiciness of your plums and your desired thickness for your sauce.
- Remove from heat and let cool if refrigerating for up to 3 weeks.
- If canning your sauce, can while the sauce is hot using the boiling water canning method.
Arugula With Italian Plums and Parmesan
Toss plums, cocktail onions, lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl. Add arugula, season with salt and pepper, and toss again. Transfer to a platter; top with Parmesan and drizzle with more oil.