Poached spiced plums

Poached spiced plums

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
200g granulated sugar
250ml water
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod
1 star anise
500g plums


  1. Put the sugar into a medium saucepan with the water and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally, then add the cinnamon stick. Split the vanilla pod lengthways and add to the pan with the star anise.
  2. Cut the plums in half and remove the stones. Add the plums to the sugar syrup and cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes, or until they are soft but not falling apart. If the plums are very ripe, take the pan off the heat as soon as the sugar syrup starts steaming.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Remove the spices and serve the plums at room temperature with some of the syrup spooned over. They are lovely with ice cream, crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt.


  • Greengages with ginger: Use greengages instead of plums. Replace the vanilla, cinnamon and star anise with a 4 cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced. Remove the ginger slices when the greengages have cooled and stir in 2 pieces of preserved stem ginger, chopped.

    Cardamom poached apricots: Use apricots instead of plums, reduce the sugar to 100 g and replace 150 ml of the water with sweet dessert wine. Omit the vanilla pod and star anise and add the pared zest and juice of 1 orange and 6–8 cracked cardamom pods. Poach gently for 5 minutes, or until the apricots are tender but still keeping their shape. Leave to cool in the syrup and, once cool, remove the zest and spices.

The poaching technique

  • Once you’ve mastered the technique of poaching, any firm fruits can be poached in the same way, such as peaches, nectarines, greengages or quince (allowing a considerably longer poaching time for the latter, as they are very hard).

    Poaching means cooking very gently, ensuring the ingredients do not break up during the cooking process and allowing for a transfer of flavour from the ingredient being poached to the poaching liquor. We define the terms of poaching, simmering or boiling as follows:

    Poaching is when a small bubble occasionally breaks the surface.

    Simmering is when small bubbles consistently break the surface.

    Boiling is the dynamic movement of large bubbles breaking the surface.
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