Stewed plums are a versatile and delicious way to enjoy this late summer to early fall fruit - they taste great on ice cream, cake, yogurt, or oatmeal! And, stewing plums only takes about 10 minutes, using only a few basic ingredients!
Note: this post was originally published in 2021 and updated in 2022 with improved instructions.
Stewing plums is a great way to use up an abundance of this beautiful tangy and sweet fruit. By cooking in sweetened liquid seasoned with orange and cinnamon, the plums become tender, soft and sweet. They taste so nice atop vanilla ice cream, cake, or even oatmeal or yogurt for a breakfast treat!
And, you can stew plums in only about 10 minutes! This easy stewed plums recipe even has optional instructions on how to reduce the cooking liquid into a tangy and sweet plum syrup (to drizzle on top of your stewed plums and ice cream, perhaps?).
- Plums: I used black plums because they were available at my local grocery store, but red plums would also work well. I talk more about plum selection (including size and ripeness) in the Tips and tricks section below.
- Orange: you will use the orange for its juice, and also the zest, which is optional. If you don't have a fresh orange, you can substitute bottled orange juice.
- Sugar: you just need regular granulated sugar. But, for a more complex flavor, you can try half brown sugar and half white sugar.
Step by step photos
Here is a quick breakdown on how to stew plums. For the full recipe instructions and ingredient amounts, please see the recipe card down below!
1. First, wash and dry the plums. Then cut each one in half vertically and twist gently to separate the halves.
2. Then, remove each stone from the plum halves. If the stone won't remove with your hands, you can do this carefully with a small paring knife.
3. In a large, high-sided skillet, pour in the water, sugar, cinnamon, and fresh orange juice (plus, the optional orange zest if using). Heat over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar begins to dissolve.
4. Then, add in the plum halves in a single layer, cut-side down. Cook the plums for about 2 minutes, turning the heat down as needed to maintain a simmer.
5. After 2 minutes, flip the plum halves with tongs and continue to simmer until they reach your desired level of doneness (if cooking for longer than a few minutes, you can flip them one more time).
6. Test the doneness with a small knife. If you want plums on the firmer side, remove them from the heat when the knife is still encountering some slight resistance. If you want very tender stewed plums, the knife should easily sink into the flesh.
7. When the plums have reached your desired level of tenderness, remove them from the pan with the tongs and set aside.
If you like, you can now reduce the juice in the pan to get a lovely syrup. Just boil the liquid gently until it thickens to your liking, stirring frequently. (If not doing this step, you can just store the plums in the liquid as-is.)
How to use stewed plums
There are so many ways to use your stewed plums! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Top a dish of the plums with a sprinkle of granola and chopped nuts
- Make a parfait with layers of stewed plums, yogurt, and granola
- Use the plums as a topping for oatmeal
- Use as a topping for vanilla ice cream (be sure to drizzle on that plum syrup as well!)
- Make a plum shortcake: top a slice of pound cake with stewed plums and whipped cream (or try on top of these delicious vanilla muffins!)
- Lightly mash or chop the plums and combine them with sweetened whipped cream to make an easy fruit fool
How long will stewed plums last?
You can store the stewed plums, covered in the fridge, for 3 - 4 days. They taste great cold right out of the fridge, or you can gently warm them up in the microwave before serving.
Can I freeze stewed plums?
If 3 - 4 days isn't long enough for you, you can also freeze the plums in their cooking liquid. After they have cooled down, just place them in an airtight food storage container or freezer zip-top bag, making sure there is enough head room to account for the liquid expanding as it freezes. They will keep in the freezer well for 6 months!
One caveat - in my experience, frozen fruit that is thawed does tend to be softer and breaks down more easily. This isn't so much a problem with stewed fruit as it's meant to be soft, but just something to keep in mind.
If you're no stranger to stewing plums and want to mix it up a bit, here's some variations to try:
- Season the stewing liquid with a different citrus - try Meyer lemon, grapefruit, or tangerine!
- Add a different spice besides or in addition to the cinnamon. Ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice would all be delicious.
- After stewing, mix in a few drops of vanilla or almond extract into the liquid.
- For a deeper flavor, replace half of the granulated sugar with brown sugar.
Tips and tricks
Selecting plums for stewing
After much trial and error, I have found the best type of plum to use are ones that are "firm-ripe." Meaning, when you give it a gentle squeeze, there is a slight amount of softness there but not much. So, still firm but not rock-hard.
If you use plums that are too firm, they won't have as much sweetness or flavor. If the plums are too ripe, they will mush when you try to separate them into halves and will break apart quickly when cooked.
Also, I prefer to use plums that are small to medium in size. Larger plums would work just fine, but I found small to medium plums easier to serve and eat!
I used black plums here, but red plums would also work well. I haven't tried other types of plums, but you can check out this article on plums, including different varieties, if you want to experiment with other types!
Other tips and tricks
- The plums I used in this recipe were medium-sized. So, based on the size of the plums you select, you may need to adjust the cook time up or down as needed.
- Depending on how long you cook the plums, the skins will loosen and may slip off. This is no problem, you can just leave them in the cooking liquid, or remove them if you want.
- Also feel free to adjust the sweetness to suit your own tastes and also the sweetness level of the plums you are using. To my tastes, the ½ cup sugar called for in the recipe was sweet enough but there was still quite a bit of tanginess. For a sweeter dish, you could increase the sugar to ⅔ cup.
You will need a large skillet for stewing plums. For best results, use a skillet large enough to fit all the plum halves in a single layer (mine was 12 inches), and use one that has higher sides to contain the cooking liquid.
After testing this recipe using a saucepan, as I did for my recipe for stewed peaches, I was feeling frustrated because the plums were breaking apart as they cooked. So, I switched to using a large skillet, which worked wonderfully because it allowed the plums to cook in a single layer, helping them to stay intact as they cooked.
No, you don't need to peel the plums, but you can if you want to. I found that the plum skins loosen a bit during the stewing process anyways, so you can either remove the skins at that point, or just enjoy them as part of the dish.
Yes you can, but you may wish to adjust the sweetness levels and cooking time accordingly.
As I mentioned above, I prefer stewing plums with fruit that is still firm but not rock-hard. If your plums are very firm, you will need to cook them for longer and maybe add in a bit more sugar (although, please feel free to adjust this to suit your own tastes).
If you have overripe plums, try cutting back on the cook time so the plums don't fall apart. You can also experiment with adding more orange juice (or even lemon juice) to bring in more of that tanginess that is often missing from overripe fruit.
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Stewed plums are a quick and easy way to prepare plums, and they taste great on a variety of breakfast and dessert foods! You can make this easy stewed plums recipe in only 10 minutes or so.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: dessert, breakfast
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 2 pounds (907 grams) firm-ripe plums, washed (see notes)
- ¾ cup (177 ml) water
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar (see notes)
- ¼ cup (59 ml) freshly-squeezed orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
- Cut each plum in half vertically and remove the stones carefully with your fingers or a small paring knife if needed. Set plums aside.
- In a large, high-sided skillet, add the water, sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, and orange zest (if using). Place the pan over medium-high heat and stir, just until the sugar begins to dissolve.
- Add the plum halves to the pan in a single layer, cut side down. Cook the plums in the liquid for 2 minutes, turning the heat down when needed to maintain a simmer.
- Carefully flip the plums using tongs, and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
- Test the doneness of the plums by inserting a small knife into the plum flesh. For plums that are more firm and hold their shape better, the knife should encounter slight resistance. This stage will take approximately 4 - 5 minutes of total cook time, depending on the ripeness of the plums (see notes).
- For softer plums, continue to cook for an additional 2 - 3 minutes, flipping the plums one more time to rest on their cut side.
- When the plums have reached the desired level of tenderness, remove them from the pan with the tongs and set aside.
- Optional: to create a plum syrup to serve alongside the stewed plums, continue to simmer the cooking liquid for an additional 4 - 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the desired thickness is reached. (If not doing this step, simply store and serve the plums in the cooking liquid as-is.)
For best results, choose plums that give only slightly to gentle pressure. They should be firm, but not rock-hard.
If you like more sweetness or your plums are quite sour, you can increase the sugar to ⅔ cup.
The cooking times listed here are based on medium-sized plums that are firm-ripe. You may need to adjust the cooking time depending on the size and ripeness of the plums you are using, and your preference for how soft or firm you would like the stewed plums to be.
The stewed plums will store well in the fridge for 3 - 4 days, or for up to 6 months in the freezer.
The nutrition information below is an estimate only; the nutrition counts of your dish will vary based on the brands and exact amounts of ingredients used. This information was provided by an online nutrition calculator, and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full nutrition disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: ⅙ recipe
- Calories: 133
- Sugar: 31.3 g
- Sodium: 0.3 mg
- Fat: 0.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 33.6 g
- Fiber: 1.9 g
- Protein: 1 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: stewed plums, stewing plums