Frozen Plums — What Have I Done!?

My father has a lot of fruit trees. Just as he left for a two month vacation, his yellow/golden plums started ripening — fast! Since I have limited time on the weekends to go down to his place while he’s gone, I decided last weekend to pick the whole lot, lest they just start falling off the tree and going bad. I figured I’d bring some fresh ones to friends and co-workers, and make preserves out of the rest. Of course, by the end of the day, I was exhausted just from picking, and I knew I couldn’t get back to the plums until next weekend. Not really thinking the problem though, I put my buckets of plums in the empty freezer in my Dad’s garage, figuring I’d just be able to let them slowly defrost later. Not so, I have just learned! I came by the house to water plants tonight, and decided to take a handful of plums out of the freezer — they looked great, and were frozen rock hard. Half hour later, they are brown and mushy — they look rotten though they were fresh just minutes ago!

Have I ruined my crop of plums (about 50 or 60 pounds of them), or is there some hope? Any help greatly appreciated!

14 Answers

  • Fritz Jul 31, 2002

    You can not freeze tree fruit, so they are basically ruined. Plums and nectarines are particularly sensitive. You can try to “unfreeze” them slowly, by gradually increasing the temperature by a few degrees every 12 hours or so, or just try to set them in a very cold fridge thetn bring them up to 33-34 degrees F slowly. If you take them out of the freezer and leave out at room temperature then for sure they will give you no love.

    • Zach Georgopoulos Jul 31, 2002

      Yeah, I was afraid of that. Thanks for the advice — I’ll experiment by putting some in the fridge. At this point I’m looking for recipes for plum jam (rather than preserves), on the theory that aesthetics won’t be so important….

      • ironmom Jul 31, 2002

        You can puree them, put the puree through a sieve, and sweeten it.

        I freeze fresh raspberries, because I have too many of them. Sometimes, when thawing, I put them in a sieve and let the juice drain, pressing the pulp. I then discard the pulp and use the juice to make a beverage.

        • Zach Georgopoulos Jul 31, 2002

          But what would I do with all the puree?! Unless, of course, I just do it a few plums at a time. Probably I’ll just go with jam so I can get this sad fiasco over with….

    • Plano Rose Jul 31, 2002

      Think jam. No matter how you thaw them, you probably are not going to eat them raw. I’ve made plum jam, but it’s been a long time. Basically, you put equal amounts by volume of plums and sugar. Bring to boil and cook stirring frequently until thick. Good luck.

      • Zach Georgopoulos Jul 31, 2002

        Jam definitely is in the running. In fact it’s about the only contender. Question, since you’ve made this before: can it be made with the peels, or do I have to painstakingly peel each plum?

        • Oohlala! Jul 31, 2002

          No need to peel. Just chop them up and lose the pits. I make a great batch of plum jam last week (though I skipped the freezing part!)

          • Zach Georgopoulos Aug 1, 2002

            OK — good to know. I don’t relish the idea of peeling all these plums. Hmmm — relish — chutney — plum chutney? The possibilities are endless….

            • Linda W. Aug 4, 2002

              Plum ketchup. Excellent sandwich spread or on turkey burgers or spread on grilled chicken. And after making it, you can freeze it in 1-cup portions for use later on. I originally got this recipe from “Eating Well”.

              1-1/2 lbs. red or black plums–5 to 6 medium, pitted and quartered
              2 cloves garlic, minced
              1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
              1/3 cup cider vinegar
              1/3 cup water
              1/2 tsp salt
              1/2 tsp ground ginger
              1/4 tsp ground allspice
              1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
              1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
              1 cinnamon stick, 2″ long

              In a large heavy saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a low boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until plums have cooked down to a puree, 35 to 45 minutes. Or if it hasn’t cooked down enough, remove from heat and let cool for about 5-10 minutes, then puree all ingredients in a food processor (minus the cinnamon stick). Discard cinnamon stick. Transfer to a bowl or storage container. (The ketchup will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.)

              Makes 2 cups.

        • Nancy Berry Jul 31, 2002

          You might also try to make some sorbet from the puree.

          Here’s a link to a recipe:


          • Stanley Stephan Jul 31, 2002

            According to quite a few websites, freezing plums whole is OK. Suggestions include cakes and puddings as well as the jam already mentioned. Here’s a recipe for plum wine using 12 pounds of frozen plums. I vote for this one. Use google advanced search and enter frozen plums in the exact phrase box.


            • Zach Georgopoulos Jul 31, 2002

              Yeah, I came across some of those sites about freezing, too, after my defrosting fiasco. They are clearly wrong, in my book! Thanks for the recipe, though — this may be something worth trying (there’s only so much plum jam I can stand!).

              • Stanley Stephan Jul 31, 2002

                If you pick through the links about how it’s ok to freeze (and then no follow up on what to do) and the frozen plum importers, you will find some additional recipes. There’s a really nice one for a plum strusel cake. Also a good plum chutney. Think of all the money you can save this year at Christmas giving out jars of Plum chutney (should you celebrate that holiday).

                Also, one of the freezing sites tells you how to unfreeze and keep the color. Something about immersing in hot water for 10 seconds, slipping off the skin and then using lemon juice to keep from browning.

                Plum pie doesn’t personally appeal to me, but there are tons of recipies out there for plum butter which you can make if you puree stuff … plain plum butter, apple-plum butter, ginger peach plum butter, raspberry plum butter. Very nice at breakfast on buttered toast.

                I saw a recipe for brownies using plum butter. Remember a few years back when people were trying to replace fat with plum / prune puree. You might look those up.

                I still say, go the alcoholic route. There was also a mead recipe using frozen plums. Drink enough plum wine and you’ll forget all about this fiasco.

                • Zach Georgopoulos Jul 31, 2002

                  Wow! OK, my head is swimming with ideas. Originally, I had figured on some nice whole-plum preserves, but that assumed that the plums would not look like they were rotten. Somehow, slowly simmering and peeling 60 lbs of plums in order to accomplish this doesn’t seem worthwhile. But between jam, plum butter, plum puree, plum wine, etc…, I think I can make the best of this crisis. Thanks everyone for your help!

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