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Plum Picking on a Misty Morning

Our friends Jim and Sharon reached out to Eliza the other day to ask if we wanted to come pick a few plums for our farm store. They said they have a couple of trees, but they weren't sure how many there might be. They hoped it would be worth our while.

After two hours and approximately 250 pounds of plums, we decided that yes, it was certainly worth our while.

The results of our harvest from a neighbor's plum trees.
250 pounds of Italian plums

There have been a lot of fires in the area this year. So the air quality has been compromised. This morning smelled a little less of smoke, but there was a misty fog hanging around us just west of Monroe, Oregon. Picking with us was our WWOOFER, Larry. We were all pleased by the perfect timing our friends had in calling us before the plums were too ripe. They were perfect and ready to come off the tree. Also, there was little sign of insect damage.

We have already started to dehydrate them. For those not in the know, these kinds of plums have a lot going for them.

  1. They are sweet like candy.

  2. The stones release cleanly from the flesh. In fact, when we cut these plums, often the pits just fall on the cutting board.

  3. The leaves hide a lot of the hanging fruit, so a tree can have a lot more fruit on it than it looks like at first glance.

Gleaning is important.

The last few years, I've observed that so much fruit goes to waste in our communities. I've seen people with pear trees in their yard, dropping beautiful fruit on the lawn while they sit inside and play Xbox. Later complaining how the fruit messes up the grass. We so appreciate friends who have more fruit to share than they can pick reaching out to us to help in the harvest. Gleaning is a valuable activity that saves this good food so it can do good in the community.

Most areas have a local gleaners that can organize volunteers to harvest local fruits. If you have trees, bushes, grapevines that produce more than you can use, consider reaching out and finding others to help. We had such a great time visiting with Jim and Sharon on our misty plum morning.

Jim and Sharon – Our saintly "fruit angels"

Sharon told us a little of the history of the trees. Their farm is part of the original Belknap homestead. The Belknaps were a huge family that settled here from the Oregon Trail. This whole area was parceled out in land claims starting in the 1840's, and the Belknaps arrived here in a covered wagon along the Applegate Trail. Jim and Sharon bought the farm from George and Dixie Landis. Dixie apparently was a character as she would go to town packing a six-shooter. But we likely have Dixie to thank for planting these terrific plum trees.

Sharon also shared a great plum recipe she got from the New York Times. So I'm going to take this opportunity to spread it further.

Plum Torte

  • ¾ to 1 cup sugar

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup unbleached flour, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • Pinch of salt (optional)

  • 2 eggs

  • 24 halves pitted purple plums

  • Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.

  3. Spoon the batter into a springform* pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.

  4. Bake 1 hour, approximately. You may need to tent with foil if top browns too quickly. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)

* Springform pan not necessary. Have baked in 9” square and round tins with same results.


Plums will be for sale in our farm store for as long as supplies last. If you make the torte, send us a message and tell us how it turned out!

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