How to poach whole plums

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Buy plums when they are cheap and poach them – they take no time to cook and are the ultimate breakfast and dessert stand-by. Pimp the syrup with the addition of vanilla, Amaretto, elderflower cordial, star anise, rosemary or orange flower or rosewater.


12 plums
100g demerara, cane or caster sugar
2 tablespoons cold water


  1. Place the whole plums in a large heavy saucepan, add the sugar and water and bring the mixture to the boil. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook until the plums are cooked through but still holding their shape (20-30 minutes depending on how ripe they are). Turn the plums gently in the syrup halfway through cooking. Once the plums are cooked, remove them to a serving bowl, turn the heat up and boil the syrup to thicken it. Pour it over the plums. Serve warm or cold with crème fraîche.

How to flavour whole plums

Vanilla Plums: Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence to the warm syrup once the plums are cooked.

Amaretto Plums: Add 2 tablespoons of Amaretto liqueur with the sugar. If you wish, also add a splash of vanilla extract to the syrup once the plums are cooked to round out the flavour.

Elderflower Plums: Add 3 tablespoons of elderflower cordial with the sugar.

Star Anise Plums: Add one or two star anise bulbs along with the sugar.

Rosemary Plums: Add 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary with the sugar.

Orange Flower Plums: Add the zest of one orange along with the sugar, and add 1 teaspoon of orange water syrup to the plums once they have finished cooking.

Rosewater Plums: Add 1/2 teaspoon of rosewater or a quarter teaspoon of rose extract to the warm syrup once the plums have finished cooking.


Poached Plum Recipe note: If some of the plums are riper than others, they may collapse during cooking. Just mash them gently into the syrup to make a sauce. You can remove the stones from the plums once they are cooked or leave them in and let people do it themselves (make sure to warn them!). For children and older people it’s best to remove them before you serve.


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