Pickled Plums - Italian Style

Kate Punshon - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Use dark plums for this Italian inspired pickled plum recipe. The aromatic spices, sweetened vinegar and plum nectar produce an opulent accompaniment. The cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, whole allspice berries and fresh ginger add to its depth and complexity. Serving pickled fruit is traditional in many European cuisines to offset the richness of  game meats, duck, turkey, goose, pork and terrines. Pickle a jar or two while they are abundant for  a special treat throughout the year,  for the Christmas roast or as a special culinary gift.

Preparation time:  20 minutes
Cooking time:       20 minutes
No of serving:       1 litre preserving jar


Sterilise the preserving jar and the sealable lid

Ingredient list

500 g whole firm ripe dark plums
400 ml apple cider vinegar
320 g white sugar
1 x 3 cm cinnamon stick
2 small dried hot peppers
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
2 teaspoons whole cardamom seeds
8 slice fresh ginger



  1. Wash and dry the plums gently with a tea towel or paper towel so as not to bruise the fruit.
  2. Using a fine cake skewer, prick each plum 4 times evenly around the plum to prevent it from bursting while  cooking.
  3. In a medium sized pot, bring the vinegar, cinnamon stick, dried peppers, whole cloves, allspice berries, cardamom seeds and ginger to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes with a lid on to extract the flavours from all the aromatics (whole spices).
  4. Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve it.
  5. Gently add the plums and cook very very gently until they are just cooked.
  6. Remove the plums with a slotted spoon and place in a clean dry sterilised jar.
  7. Strain the vinegar solution through a fine kitchen strainer. Discard the aromatics.
  8. Cover the plums with the hot syrup to approximately 2.5cm (I inch) from the top of the jar.
  9. Cover with clean fresh tea towel until  cool.
  10. Seal, label with the date and store in a cool dark place for at least a month before eating.

Recipe notes

  1. Most people tend to use over-ripe plums when making pickles and preserves. This will affect the final texture as the plum will go mushy and flavour.
  2. For the best results use firm, ripe fruit that it not too soft or that has not been bruised.
  3. If you have an extraction fan over your stove, always work with it on when cooking vinegar based pickling solutions to remove the vinegar fumes.
  4.  Do not be tempted to smell the vinegar solution while it’s cooking as this will take your breath away.

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