How To Peel Plums
Learn a foolproof technique.
While we love seeing fresh plums in our summertime pie, tart, and cake recipes, they’re not always the easiest ingredients to work with. With their thin skins and juicy flesh, peeling plums is a notoriously tricky business. There's more than one way to skin a plum and, at first glance, conventional wisdom might point you to knife-based techniques for peeling apples, peaches, and pears. Not so fast! Those methods don’t work well for our favorite purple fruit. Plums have an entirely different (softer and soupier) texture, and if you try to skin a plum with a knife, things will get really messy, really fast. All hope isn’t lost, though: There's a foolproof technique for peeling plums that all home cooks should know.
The secret to peeling plums is the use of water at two temperature extremes: (1) a pot of boiling water, and (2) a bowl of ice-cold water. The first step is to make shallow, X-shaped cuts at the bottom of each plum. This will allow the water to loosen the skins. Then blanch your plums by placing them in the pot of boiling water you have heating on the stove. Let the fruits sit there for a period of no less than 30 seconds and no more than 1 minute. You’ll want to pull the plums before they get too waterlogged and start to become mushy.
After you remove the plums from the boiling water, which you can do with a slotted spoon or heat-safe tongs, place them into a prepared bath of ice water, ensuring the bowl is big enough to accommodate all the fruit and that they are submerged beneath the surface of the water. Let the plums sit for 3-5 minutes. Test to see if they’re ready to peel by taking one out, patting it dry, and pulling the loose skin at the base of the fruit (where you sliced the X earlier). If the skin doesn’t remove easily, it’s not ready, and you may need to let it sit in the ice bath longer. The skin of the fruit should pull away easily and, in some cases, slide right off the plum. Once peeled, slice the fruit to access the central stones, and remove them. The plums will then be ready to eat, cook, or bake with.
Try making some of our favorite plum recipes with all that in-season fruit you have on hand. (You can leave the skins on for these recipes.) Ginger-Plum Slump is a cobbler-style dessert made on the stovetop, while Warm Plum Cobbler is a gooey, fruity dish that belongs firmly in the camp of “comfort dessert.” Plum-Berry Cornmeal Sheet Cake, a best-of-all-the-rest summertime recipe, combines a delicious hodgepodge of berries and fruits into a crowd-pleasingly seasonal big-batch cake.
WATCH: Ginger-Plum Slump
What’s your go-to method for peeling plums? What recipes will you break out to put your plums to work this season?