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Wild Plum Pie

Wild plum pie

Photo by Elise Bauer

What do you do when you are overrun with wild plums — or regular plums, for that matter? Make pies. Now those of you know I am not a pie maker by nature. My normal idea of a good dessert is just fruit with cream. But the thought of a plum pie called to me. Only how to I make it without messing things up?

So I got help from my friend Elise at Simply Recipes, and she taught me how to make a perfect pie crust, something that had bedeviled me for years. We use butter in this recipe, but next time I’ll use lard; you get a flakier crust that way.

Since we used her recipe for pie crust and it’s on Elise’s site, follow her directions for the crust and my directions for the filling.

The first thing you need to know about this filling is that wild plums are tart. Really tart, as in rhubarb tart. I like that, but if you don’t add more sugar, which will dull the tartness somewhat. If you use regular plums instead, you might need to add some lemon juice, maybe 1/2 a lemon’s worth.

I also added some sage into the filling, which is unusual, I know. I like it, and it is barely noticeable. But the sage adds a base note┬áto the bright plum flavor that makes the pie seem a little more grown-up. If you don’t want to use it, leave the sage out.

Finally, be sure to let this pie cool completely before serving, or it will goop out all over the plate.

Makes 1 standard 9-inch pie

  • 1 cup walnuts, preferably black walnuts
  • 2 pounds wild or regular plums
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 recipe, Elise’s pie crust
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup flour


  1. Make the pie crust first. While the crust is resting in the fridge or freezer, make the filling.
  2. Chop the walnuts roughly into largish pieces. You want to know they are there when you eat the pie.
  3. Pit the plums. This is a pain with small cherry-plums, but most wild plums are no harder to pit than regular plums. Just slice off large pieces from around the pit. Make sure you keep the skin, which has a lot of flavor.
  4. Put the plums into a large bowl with the walnuts. Add the sugar, salt, sage and flour and mix well. The sugar and salt will draw moisture from the cut plums, so the filling will get soupy. Don’t worry, it’ll firm up in the end.
  5. Make the topping by combining the room temperature butter, brown sugar and 1/3 cup flour together until you get a crumbly texture.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Pour the filling into the cold pie crust and bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Take the pie out of the oven and sprinkle the crumble topping over the plums. Bake the pie for another 20 minutes.
  9. In this second baking, watch the crust. If it begins to brown too much, take it out one more time and loosely wrap foil over the crust to protect it.
  10. Let the pie cool completely before eating it. It’s good right out of the fridge. Serve with vanilla ice cream if you want.

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