Drying Japanese Plums Prunus salicina

A bowl of dried Japanese plums (Prunus salicina)
A bowl of dried Japanese plums (Prunus salicina) var. Ptitsin.

No process better demonstrates the difference in “behaviour” between European plums (Prunus domestica) and Japanese plums (Prunus salicina) than drying. Whereas typical grocery store prunes made from domestica are soft, chewy, and super sweet with dark flavours of caramel, dried Prunus salicina are much more like dried sour cherries.

These plums at left were halved, pitted, and kept in our dehydrator overnight around 40°C.

Even though the flesh of fresh Japanese plums has very little acidity, as I wrote about in this post most processing methods cause a dramatic change in flavour and the fruit becomes sour. Dehydrating of course concentrates this acidity. I like sour fruits like haskaps and Evans cherry as much as anyone, but these prunes are seriously like Warheads. The results were similar for both our varieties, Ptitsin #3 and Ivanovka.

My dream was to make sugar plums with prunes from our homegrown Japanese plums. While they could maybe make up a small portion of the mixture, they would definitely need to be combined with more mild dried fruit like apricots, golden raisins, or conventional prunes.

The acidity is so high I doubt we’ll dry more in years to come. If you want to try drying your own Japanese plums, expect to use them more like dried sour cherries than prunes.

Some ideas on usage:

  • some tinctures and infusions call specifically for dried sour cherries, for instance the “BTP House Bitters” in Parsons’ book Bitters
  • Rolled in white sugar these dried plums eat a bit like Sour Patch Kids.
  • These plums could be dried for long term storage, then poached in a light syrup to rehydrate and sweeten for use on breakfast plates, like waffles. Though honestly I’d prefer plum jam.