|Sweet Pickled Plums|
To 5 lbs. ripe Damsons 2 ½ lbs. sugar 1 quart vinegar 2 oz. cloves—1 oz. cinnamon, ½ oz. mace—boil the sugar and all the spices in the vinegar, Pour it boiling hot on the fruit when cold, pour it off 6 times weigh your plum before you stone it—to be served with Ducks.
- Beach Plum (Prunus maritima), native to the coastal northeast.
- Sierra Plum (P. subcordata), native to northern California and Oregon
- P. Americana, native to the central states
- Egg Plums
- P. institia (this species includes damsons and bullaces)
Morris recommends serving her pickled damsons with duck, and I found another 19th century recipe for a Damson Sauce for Meats in Miss Corson's Practical American Cookery (New York, 1886), which is almost exactly like Morris's recipe. Likewise, this recipe states that it is meant to be served with game, birds, and venison. The combination of sweet and sour, with the addition of the sweet spices, really does make this a perfect condiment for these types of meats.
In addition, I found many recipes in 19th century American cookbooks for damsons to be made into jam/preserves, pies, puddings, and even water ice.
A Substitute for Damsons: The Italian Prune Plum
Unfortunately, I do not have access to any variety of damson plums, so I am using an alternative variety, the Italian Prune Plum, available in late summer and early fall. Prune plums are generally designed to be dried; however, these plums are also really good for making jam or for preserving in vinegar. They are also really very cute little egg-shaped gems. While these prune plums do not taste exactly like damsons, they do look like them and are versatile enough to be used in the same ways as damsons. It's not a perfect substitute but it works.
|Italian Prune Plums|
Pickled Plums: Modern Recipe Adaptation
- 5 Pounds Plums (damson or prune varieties)
- 1 Quart (4 cups) Apple Cider Vinegar
- 5 1/2 Cups Sugar
- 3/4 cup Whole Cloves (or to taste as this is a lot of cloves!)
- 1/3 Cup Ground Cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons Ground Mace
- You will need to can these plums using the hot water bath method. Start by sterilizing in boiling water canning jars of the size of your choice equaling 4 quarts.
- While the canning jars are sterilizing, wash the plums, remove the pits, and cut them up into large chunks. Set aside.
- In a large pot, place the vinegar, sugar, and spices. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to the lowest setting possible and simmer for 5 minutes. Note: this mixture will bubble up a lot so make sure to use a very large pot.
- Place the chunks of plums into the hot, sterilized jars. Pour the pickling liquid (including the whole cloves) into the jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of head space.
- Process the jars in the hot water canner for the number of minutes appropriate to your jar size and altitude.
- Mrs. Morris recommends pouring off the pickling liquid "6 times" before eating. Presumably, she meant to rinse the plums six times. I would recommend pouring off the pickle and then giving the pickled plums a good wash before serving, if you want to follow her directions. You can always serve the plums with the liquid, if you prefer.