At the end of the Summer when the plums are ready to harvest, the girls’ Grandma Sun-dries freshly picked plums that she puréed, turning them into Natural fruit roll-ups. This is a favourite snack for all her Grandkids!
Plum gum is a tradition that we are proudly passing down to the girls by showing them how to make their Grandma's famous plum gum!
With this activity, you will also get lots of excercise picking the fruit! This is also part of the tradition, fruit picking! we love picking fruit every summer with the kids and showing them how they grow on the trees. It’s fun picking nature's treasures and then making something out of them. Eating raw plums is a favourtie snack too.
Sun drying food really connects your food to nature, and it’s free! It does take a bit of time and can take hours to dry and even up to two days to dry! If you have the time, patience and the curiousity, this recipe is for you! The high sugar and acid content of fruits make them safe to dry in the sun and the process can feel rewarding to those interested in slow living and feeling connected to the world around you.
The great thing about this process is that there is only ONE INGREDIENT: PLUMS!
Using the summer and hot fall sun is a great way to dry out and preserve your fruit without having to use a dehydrator. It saves energy and is a fun process. Obviously, you will need a full sunny few days to do this! In the hot summer it will fully dry in one afternoon, in the early fall it takes about two days. Either one is fine and it is completely safe to take a day or two to fully dry. You can also add your blended plums to a dehydrator, if sun drying them makes you nervous.
If you are worried about bugs wanting to get at your plum gum while it’s drying, don’t worry! The bugs don’t seem to be attracted to it at all while it’s drying and they leave it be, at least that is our experience, but you can cover your tray with a mesh fabric, something with holes that is super breathable, like a cheesecloth. You can also use a solar dehydrator that is fully enclosed to keep the bugs away.
The first step is obviously to go outside and pick some plums from your backyard plum tree or perhaps you know of one growing in a near by forest! You can also buy them from the market or store, if you don’t have any available for picking.
Once you have foraged plums, it’s time to make the plum gum! Always wash your plums before eating them or using them in a recipe.
Setting up your drying space:
Choose a table that is in full sun, and one that attracts the heat, like a stone or darker table.
Picking your drying trays:
You can use stainless steel baking sheets or trays lined with wax paper or just tape wax paper to a long table outside in the sun
To SUN dry the plums you will need SUN! Pick a time with a sunny weather forecast, of a couple of rain-free, windless hot days, preferably with a temperature of 28 - 34 degrees, but lower tempertaures (20+) will work too but it will take a day or two.
1-3 tablespoons of water (just enough to blend them, optional)
Use as many plums as you want! Since the only ingredients are plums we aren't going to get into measurements, just blend what you want to preserve, make a large batch or a small batch!
Sun-kissed Plum Gum
Wash and split plums, remove stones, and blend them in a food processor. Add water only if needed, if the plums aren't blending well, start with a tablespoon.
Pour the mixture in sections on the table and spread evenly into large squares, up to 2 feet by 20 inches. If you are pouring it into trays, pour a thin layer so that it covers the bottom of the tray evenly. don't make it too thick or it will take too long to sun-dry
Let it dry for an afternoon, day or even a couple of days until it is fully dried. it should peel off easily into a sheet. Timing varies with the weather.
Cut the sheets into long strips with a pizza cutter or scissors. We cut ours two inches wide.
Roll them, shiny side out, and store in containers.
Note: The plum gum preserves like raisins for up to five years! Drying fruit is a great way to preserve plums that you can't eat fast enough, so they don't go bad.
Grandma's massive batch air drying on her backyard table: