The plum picking season is almost over for another year. It was prolonged for me because of the cooler weather. The fruit was prolific, but smaller than usual due to drier conditions in early fruit set and growth. And I wasn’t around to give them regular watering top-ups.
My ‘Mariposa‘ plums were all picked by soon after Christmas, but the ‘Satsuma‘ blood plums have lasted well into February. Lovely plump deep red/purple fruit with rich almost spicy flavors.
I love plum picking season because it is when I make my favorite plum sponge. The original recipe was for greengage plums, but I’ve adapted it over the years to work with other plums too. See the recipe below.
Now that the plums have been picked (and eaten and bottled and baked) it’s time to prune the plum trees. My plums are Japanese plums, which means they are pruned differently to the European plums.
Japanese plums grow fruit on the previous year’s wood and are best pruned in summer just after the fruit is harvested. If pruned in winter they’ll produce copies of new stems, but none will bear fruit.
Deadwood should be removed when you notice it, at any time of year. But for the main summer pruning, cut back all shoots by at least half, while at the same time opening up the center of the tree by removing inward growing branches.
It’s as simple as that. As well as ‘Satsuma’ and ‘Mariposa’, other Japanese plum cultivars include ‘Santa Rosa’, ‘Pluot’, ‘Donsworth’ and ‘Ruby’. And don’t forget if you are buying plums, that most need to be cross-pollinated. So buy two, and check with your supplier about cross-pollinating cultivars.
Time 1.5 hours
500g plums, stoned
2 tablespoons water
125g self-raising flour
To make filling
Place halved/quartered fruit and water at the bottom of the deep pie dish and sprinkle with sugar.
To make sponge
In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until soft and aerated. Fold in eggs, then whisk into mixture. Then gradually whisk in flour. Spread/pour over fruit. Bake in the oven at 190 degrees C for about an hour, reducing heat after 35-40 mins if the top is browning too quickly. (I find that I need to put a metal tray on the shelf above to stop the top browning too much and that it usually takes less than an hour to cook.)
First published: February 2020