Plum tuckered out

What do you do when you have picked 30 pounds (13.5kg) of plums at your friend’s place? You leave 15 pounds for her to deal with and take the rest home to begin on chutney, jam, cakes, jam, liqueur, jam, and then you consider force feeding the rest to your family. Anything to use them up fast. I have mentioned my friend Andrea’s garden before and I must say that once again I was overwhelmed by it. I don’ t know if her house is built on a fertile viking worshiping ground or what, but this place is insane. Actually, I was the one who looked insane because as I stood there with my already full bags after only 30 minutes I realized I hadn’t even made a dent in what there was to pick. I couldn’t help but start laughing. When I mentioned I was disappointed I couldn’t reach the small purple plums way up in a corner treetop, Andrea pointed out that the entire back ‘wall’ of her garden is lined with the same hedge-like plum trees and there were oodles of little purple balls dangling along a 40 foot (12 meter) stretch. It is no exaggeration when I say that one of her trees has plums hanging en masse like grapes. But this is like one of those ‘big fish’ stories because I forgot to take my camera with me so I didn’t get any photos of the plums still on the branches. (Note to self, glue your camera to your person).

There are four different kinds of plum trees in her yard. There were five but one of the trees blew down in a recent storm. And that one was supposed to be the big producer. I don’t know what the remaining varieties are but there are the small purple plums, regular sized red plums, green plums with a tinge of red and yellow plums although their season seemed to be over already. When I got home and realized I had 15 pounds (nearly 7kg) of plums to use up I got to work quickly. The first mission was a recipe from my mother-in-law for a plum cake (plommonkaka). Twenty five years ago she got the recipe from her neighbor, Joel, who had an amazing plum tree by the sea. Every year he would share the bountiful harvest with his friends and neighbors and he shared this recipe too. It’s a very simple cake to make and has the classic combination of almond and plums. The sweetness of the sugary cake is balanced by the tart plums and the ground almonds lend a subtle base. In Sweden it would typically be served with vaniljsås (vanilla sauce).

My other plum projects were green plum jam, purple plum jam, mixed plum jam, two kinds of chutney and plum liqueur. The jury is still out on the chutneys and liqueur since it will take some time for their flavors to develop. If they are deemed worthy of posting I’ll put them up next summer in time for plum season. The jam recipe I used is the apricot jam  from David Lebovitz’s site (which he also recommends for plums). It took me two days to run out of jars, plums, and energy. Not necessarily in that order. And after all of that work, as I was moving things around in the fridge to make space for the twelve jars of plum jam what did I find? More plums I had bought at the store before I decided to head to Andrea’s. *sigh*

Plum Cake
serves 8-10

2 eggs
1 cup (225g) granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (50g) melted butter
1 cup (125g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3.5 ounces (100g) blanched almonds, ground*
1/2 pound (400g) plums, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon demerara sugar
fresh squeezed lemon juice

Beat the eggs and granulated sugar together until fluffy and lemon colored. Add the melted butter, flour, baking powder, and ground almonds. Mix on low speed until well incorporated. Pour into a buttered 9″ baking dish. Top with halved plums, skin side up. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and lemon juice. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve the cake on it’s own or with vanilla ice cream or vanilla sauce.

*In Sweden many people use a special mandelkvarn (almond grinder) to grind the almonds. They don’t need to be as fine as flour. To grind almonds you can blitz them briefly in a clean coffee or nut grinder watching them carefully to avoid making almond butter. Adding a little bit of sugar can help to keep the nuts from binding up while blitzing them. You could alternately use the thinly sliced almonds and chop them very finely.

Vanilla Sauce (adapted from Vår Kok Bok)
serves 6-8

1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon potato flour or cornstarch
2 cups (475ml) whole milk (3%)
1-2 tablespoons vanilla sugar or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
whipped cream (optional)

Combine the eggs, sugar, potato flour, and milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Be careful not to let it boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Avoid using a steel wisk at any point as it can turn the sauce a grayish color. Once cool, you can serve the sauce as is or fold some whipped cream into it.

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Categories: desserts, food, recipes, sauces & condiments


I moved to Sweden in 2008. This blog is for people who would like to learn more about Swedish food and culture.


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8 Comments on “Plum tuckered out”

  1. September 2, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    Me and my girlfriend picked around 12-13 kg of plums this summer too. We made chutney (lots of it) and muffins. This recipe looks amazing by the way. Just the way it is presented looks so enticing.

    • September 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

      Thanks! I tried your chutney recipe but I think my subsituting cider vinegar may have been a mistake. It was a bit too strong. I don’t have much experience with chutney though, so maybe it’s supposed to be a bit tangy. I should have given the plum muffins a try, but I really was plum tuckered out so just slogging everything into jam seemed the most expedient. Maybe next year. 🙂

  2. Bill Brindley
    September 3, 2011 at 5:55 am #

    Is “plum tuckered out” a common expression in Sweden as it is in the United States? Do you know its origin?

  3. Andrea
    October 29, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    Just promise you’ll come back for more next year, and won’t be too plum tuckered out still! I’ve still got plum jam in the wine cellar from 2 years ago — I just plum don’t like plums much! 😉

    • October 29, 2011 at 7:50 am #

      No worries. I’m happy to come back. Thanks again for sharing your great garden.

  4. Jon
    November 12, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Hi! Just found your blog by accident through google.

    Speaking about plums, another smaller member of the genus Prunus also ripens in the autumn and much like the plum, lends itself to a number of recipes.

    I’m talking about sloe berries. Slånbär in Swedish. They grow in the wild, and like weed, in some parts of southern Sweden. I don’t know about Malmö though… But, if you’re lucky you might be able to find a bush somewhere. They should still be good for picking, since this autumn has been unusually un-autumny, especially in Skåne (although, there is nothing unusual about that).

    If you do find them there is one recipe that you should definitely try out. Slånbärssaft. Sloe berry squash. It’s probably my favourite kind of saft.

    The berries don’t really taste like plums, they’re much more acidic and when fresh and pre-frost even astringent. But don’t be fooled, they make excellent saft. I’ve seen it, and bought it, in the supermarket but it was nowhere near as good as the one I made myself. Beware, though, it takes some time to make, although, hardly any effort. Google it and you’ll find plenty of recipes. If you’ll decide to make it sometime, it would definitely be worth a post on your blog! And don’t forgot who told you 😉

    • November 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

      Well that turns out to be a happy accident for me that you found my blog and left some information about slånbär. I’m not familiar with them but have seen them in some of the books I have been perusing. I appreciate your recommendation to give the saft a try. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for a slånbär bush and I won’t forget who recommended giving them a try. 🙂

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