In the time before Jellybeans and Fruit Pastilles there were Comfits, a delicious confectionary also known as Sugar Plums. Comfits took several weeks of painstaking dedication to make, and were often a good cook’s most closely-guarded secret. There are several modern recipes for Sugar Plums – but here is an original version for those with the perseverance. Your patience will be sweetly rewarded!
Painting by George Flegel (Public Domain)
- Wash the plums and remove their stones.
- Sprinkle the base of a large cauldron or cooking pot with sugar. Arrange the fruit in layers, covering each layer with a good coating of sugar.
- Press down the fruit with a wooden spoon. Place on the lowest heat on a stovetop (or at the edge of the fireplace) until the sugar dissolves without burning. Remove from the heat.
- Cover with a lid to protect from insects. Leave undisturbed in the cool larder (not refrigerator) until the juice turns into syrup. This may take up to a week, depending on the outside air temperature.
- Bring the fruit to the boil for one minute, then immediately transfer it to an earthenware pot. Cover tightly. Place back inside a cool larder for an additional week.
- Roll each plum individually in sugar and place on a baking tray. Cover and leave overnight.
- Repeat the process with each damson daily, for one week, until the fruit has absorbed as much sugar as possible.
- On the eighth day cook for 30 minutes on the lowest oven setting possible, to dry out any remaining juice.
- Again, coat each plum with sugar and leave overnight.
- Repeat the 30-minute baking and sugaring process above for three-to-five additional days, until all the plums are completely crisp.
- Store in a glass jar with an airtight lid.
- Enjoy a delicious taste of the past!
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