Dehydrating Plums: What You Need to Know

Replace processed candies with home-dehydrated plums using this Beginner’s guide covering everything from drying to eating.

  • Dehydrating Plums
    When dehydrating plums in the sun, it’s best to turn the halves of the fruit inside out to speed up the drying process.
    Photo by Fotolia/Sasajo
  • Beginner's Guide to Making and Using Dried Foods
    Whether you’re using a dehydrator, experimenting with sun-drying techniques or starting out with your regular oven, Teresa Marrone has complete instructions for drying dozens of foods in “The Beginner’s Guide to Making and Using Dried Foods.”
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

  • Dehydrating Plums
  • Beginner's Guide to Making and Using Dried Foods

It's possible to dehydrate vegetables, fruits, meats, herbs and even prepared meals. Drying is simple, safe and it offers delicious and lightweight options for campers, food gardeners or anyone with a surplus of fresh food. Teresa Marrone will help you get started with dehydrating in The Beginner’s Guide to Making and Using Dried Fruits (Storey Publishing, 2014). This excerpt, which provides basic information on sun-drying and dehydrating plums, is from Chapter 8, “Leathers, Baby Food, and Prepared Foods.”

Buy this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Beginner’s Guide to Making and Using Dried Fruits.

Dehydrating Plums

Plums of some variety grow throughout the continental United States, both in commercial production and in the wild. Generally, trees bear heavily, so fresh plums are readily available in most areas. Most plum varieties can be dehydrated. Purchased prunes are made from so-called “prune-plums,” which are purplish to blue-black in color. Other plum varieties produce dried plums that look quite different from prunes; red-skinned plums, for example, produce dried plums with rich, deep reddish skin and golden-orange flesh. Plums are delicious when cut into slices or chunks and candied.

For dehydrating, choose taut-skinned plums that are just ripe and yield slightly to pressure; if the plums are too soft, it is really difficult to remove the pits. Prune-plums are generally freestone, meaning that the flesh pulls away easily from the pit. Other varieties may be clingstone, which are much more difficult to pit. While plums can be dehydrated whole, you’ll get better results if you pit the fruit and cut it in half or into quarters. If you do choose to dry whole plums, you must check (break) the skins by boiling whole fruits for 1-1/2 minutes, then plunging into ice water.

To prepare plums, wash them well and remove any stem remnants. Use a paring knife or sharp, serrated tomato knife to cut the plum in half, following the natural seam and cutting just until the knife encounters the pit. Hold the plum in both hands and twist gently in opposite directions; if the fruits are freestone, one half should pop away from the pit (if it doesn’t, you probably have a clingstone variety; see the next paragraph for an alternative cutting method). Now remove the pit from the other half; if the pit doesn’t come out easily, use the tip of your knife to carefully cut the flesh close to the pit until you can separate them. Dry the halves as they are, or cut each pitted half vertically to quarter the fruit, if you like. For faster drying (or if your plums are large), cut each half into 4 pieces, or chop into 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks.

Clingstone plum varieties are really difficult to pit cleanly; you’ll usually end up mangling the fruit. If your plums are small (as is usually the case with wild plums), it’s best to simply check the whole fruits as described above and dry them with the pits in. Larger plums are best cut into slices or chunks. Simply cut the fruit from top to bottom into 3/8-inch slices (1/2-inch slices if you want to dry the fruit in chunks), cutting parallel to the natural seam and skimming the knife along the edge of the pit when you get towards the center of the fruit. When you’ve sliced off the sides of the fruit, cut off the flesh around the pit in the center section that remains. Cut each 3/8-inch slice in half so you have two half-round pieces, or cut the 1/2-inch slices into chunks that are 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide.

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