This is the time when the wild plums are dripping from the branches. They are tart, glowing and fragrant. Some trees bear large fruits, some small. Some are red and some are yellow. It is interesting to taste each tree’s offering, getting a different mix of sweet, tart, and bitter plum flavor with each one. I gathered a gallon of plums to dry for winter. They are useful in salads, or stuffing, or desserts, similar to the commercially available dried sour cherries, but with much more flavor.
It isn’t difficult to dry them. I spread them on parchment-lined cookie sheets, and dry them in a warm oven, pits and all. Once they are starting to cook slightly they become dull-colored. I take them out of the oven and pop out the pits by gently squeezing them. Then the empty shells are laid back on the parchment and dried until they are sticky and smell like plum-flavored lolly pops.
Wild foods are not commonly a part of anyone’s diet – sadly, because the wild foods have so much more flavor and nutrition than what you can buy in the store. Wild plums grow abundantly in neighbourhoods,as their beautiful white spring blossoms make them attractive landscape plants.
Harvest, gather, process, dry….a little time and determination…and we have a jar packed with dried, wild plums…a little bit of food security, thriftiness, and a burst of summer sunshine for the winter.