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Victorian Sugar Plums

The idea of sugaring plums and other fruits and roots originated in the 1600’s in England as a way, along with smoking and salting meats, to preserve foods. By Victorian times, plums and other fruits would be coated in sugar to hang on the Christmas tree. They were a popular treat and took center stage in Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker with the ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.’

Though a bit labor intensive, this recipe for sugar plums will be sure to please! Enjoy them this season while reading or watching The Nutcracker.

Sugar Plums:


Sugar (approx 1kg/2lb 2oz) 1 jar whole plums (preserved in syrup)


1. Mix ingredients together

2. Pour the sugar into a bowl. Shake off any excess syrup from the plums. Roll each plum in the sugar until completely coated.

3. Place each sugar-coated plum onto a baking tray and set aside for 30 minutes, then re-roll the plums in the sugar.

4. Heat gently in the oven

5. Transfer the sugar-coated plums to the oven, set to its lowest setting. Heat gently for several hours, until the juice has seeped out of the plums

6. Coat the plums in sugar again, then place the coated plums onto a clean baking tray and repeat the drying process again.

7. Re-coat plums in sugar

8. Repeat the re-coating and drying process a further 3-4 times, over a period of several days, until the plums have completely dried out and the sugar coating is crisp.

9. As the plums dry, the juices will seep out, so they will need to be re-coated in sugar and transferred to a clean baking tray every 1-2 hours.)

10. Thread with cotton to hang on the tree or place in a keepsake box.

*In Victorian times, the sugar plums would have been left to dry out on a hot range for 1-2 days. In modern kitchens, the sugar plums will need to be heated in a very low oven for several hours.

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