Those are plums?!

Not Far From the Tree summary: miniature plums; oven-drying them to make tiny prunes; stewing prunes for preserves; how to deal with the pits; I love Plated Stories; information about Not Far From the Tree; (click on images for more photos and larger views)

I was reading “Blue” on Jamie and Ilva’s blog, Plated Stories and suddenly remembered that I hadn’t yet droned on about this year’s plums.

plums 2013 has been a record harvest for “Not Far From The Tree”. They also have a record number of volunteer gleaners, making it very difficult to get in on a pick. So I was thrilled when I managed to be one of the chosen to pick plums a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, that really IS a plum in the photo. They were all about that size!

Four of us arrived within a few minutes of each other on a beautiful sunny morning to see a large pitcher of cucumber/mint water and four sparkling glasses waiting for us on the table in a small, lovely, perfectly tidy back garden, shaded by two beautiful tall tall tall plum trees. At first, as I looked up, I thought there were no more plums left on the tree. Then I began to see them. From below, they hid themselves from our view, blending in with the lush green foliage surrounding them. But when I climbed a ladder and saw them close up, they turned out to be a stunning blue. The kind of blue that you want your formal velvet dress to be.

The trees were laden with fruit. One intrepid woman climbed up into one of the trees and in the short time we were there, single-handedly picked half of the 60 pounds of plums that we harvested, the rest of us standing on ladders, step stools and the garage roof.

We don’t know exactly what kind of plums they are. But they’re easily the tiniest plums I’ve ever seen. They look like Lilliputian prune plums!

They aren’t the juiciest or sweetest plums in the world but they are very good, nonetheless. The flesh inside was gold, as in prune plums. And the pits were almost impossible to take out.

plums We discussed what to do and decided that our best course of action would be to stew and jar them and then if we wanted to make plum pie, we’d remove the pits then. It would be easier.

We think.

We kept just a few plums back. I can’t quite remember why we did that. But suddenly, I had the brilliant idea to oven-dry the few that were left-over to concentrate their sugars.

plums Once they were dried, we each eagerly tasted one. Whoa!! Pucker up!!! Sour sour sour!!

Ha! Did I say we were going to concentrate their sugar? hahahahahahaha

Question: do commercial prunes (or “dried plums” if you prefer) have added sugar?

It turns out that the pits aren’t completely easy to pull out with a knife either. Hmmmm… any ideas about what we should do with our exceedingly tart tiny prunes?

plums The stewed plums were also quite tart. When we use them for pie, we’ll definitely have to add extra sugar. But just out of the jar they were wonderful drizzled on goat’s cheese.

Really wonderful!

They were equally wonderful with goats cheese on the pancakes we had this morning for breakfast. The photos are still in the camera – remind me to show you.

Not Far From the Tree Not Far From the Tree

“Not Far From the Tree” is a Toronto organization that includes a residential fruit-picking program to pick fruit (with permission, of course) that would otherwise go to waste.

There are lots and lots of fruit trees and vines in Toronto!! Bearing fruit that is eaten by birds, squirrels and raccoons. If you have such a thing in your garden and would like the animals to share the fruit with people, please do contact “Not Far From the Tree”. They will send a team of pickers to clean up your yard of fallen fruit and pick the good fruit that is still in the tree. The harvested fruit is divided evenly into 3 portions: one third going to the tree owners, one third going to the volunteer pickers and the final third going to food banks, shelters, and community kitchens.

For more information about NFFtT and how you can donate your time and/or share your fruit, please go to

blue grapes © Ilva Beretta teacups Plated Stories | Blue

Have you seen Jamie and Ilva’s post entitled Blue on their lovely blog, Plated Stories?

You haven’t? You need to.

I love Jamie’s words and Ilva’s photos, crying at the last blue shirt in the closet and the broken beautiful casserole dish, and laughing at the little stained blue hands and beautiful blue grapes and blueberry pie. And how I want to have a “deep as blue as a windswept sky, the waters of a stormy sea” smile!

Yes! I need that smile! Excuse me while I go and get a little more goat’s cheese with plum preserves….


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2 responses to “Those are plums?!

  1. barbara

    I wonder if the oven heat drew sourness from the pits?

    I supposed that’s possible, Barbara. But the plums were pretty tart before being cooked. The strange thing is that when we were picking them, they tasted really sweet. -Elizabeth

  2. Katie

    That’s the size of all of my plums – purple and yellow. I use a cherry pitter / olive pitter. Works perfectly. And I make clafoutis and jam. It takes 50 plums for my clafoutis :-D

    An olive pitter, Katie? What’s that? (Our cherry pitter is a paper clip. I’m not sure it would work on these plums.) Clafoutis, eh? There’s a good idea! -Elizabeth


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