Wild plum. Photo: Mervin Wallace

Wild Plum Recipes

Nadia in a field with yellow flowers blooming

By Nadia Navarrete-Tindall

Dr. Nadia Navarrete-Tindall, the Specialty Crops Director at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO, is an advisor to the Grow Native! program, and owns Native Plants and More, a consultation business. She lives in Columbia, MO and is originally from El Salvador.


There are 5 wild plums native to Missouri, according to Don Kurz -Trees of Missouri. The most common across Missouri is American plum (Prunus americana). Mexican wild plum (P. Mexicana) and chickasaw plum (P. angustifolia) are becoming more available commercially.


Wild plums grow 8 to 20 feet tall. They can be planted as specimens, or as a shrub border, hedgerow, or screen. They grow easily in average, dry to medium wet, well-drained soils. Use along the edge of a woodland and to attract birds. Northern orioles feed on the nectar-rich flowers. American plums are host to red-spotted purple butterfly larvae and many moths.
For more wild plum growing information, visit the Grow Native! Native Plant Database.

A basket of American plum by Nadia

Wild Plum Recipes

Choose very ripe plums. They should be soft but not mushy and the color dark-purple as in the photo. Plums can be harvested while they are not completely ripe and sit on the counter for 2 to 5 days to ripen. 

Wild plum juice
1.5 cup wild plums
Sugar to taste
1. Cook plums in a pan with 1 cup water to soften the skin. No more than 30 minutes. Let them cool.
2. Once cooled pureed the plums in a food processor, 3 to 5 minutes or until getting a smooth consistency. Be sure not to do it too long to avoid breaking the seeds. Discard seeds by hand.
3. Use a strainer to separate the skin and loose seeds from the juice.
4. Place the juice in a pitcher and add more water to get 7 to 8 cups of juice. Add sugar to taste.
*Because this juice has a lot of pulp, it can be frozen for 2 to 4 hours for a sorbet consistency.  You can also make a slushy by adding ice instead of water.
This is a very refreshing and appetizing-looking drink.
Serves 8
Plums and juice in a glass by Nadia

Ripe plums and fresh plum juice by Nadia Navarrete-Tindall. 

Wild plum tasty leather
2 ½ cups of wild plum pulp
½ cup sugar
Dehydrator to prepare the leather
1. Prepare the plums same as for the juice recipe but do not add more water to the puree.
2. Place the puree and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat to a low heat and stir it from time to time. Stir more often once the puree starts solidifying. Once the mixture is very thick and all the water has evaporated set it aside to cool it.
3. Place the wild plum puree on a dehydrator sheet. With a spatula spread the mixture to make it even. This mixture is enough to fill one sheet as shown in the photo.
4. Set the dehydrator to 135°F for 3 to 4 hours or until the puree is no longer sticky or moist. At this point the fruit leather is no longer sticky and can be taken out of the sheet.
5. Cut the leather in pieces and place it on wax or parchment paper for storage.
This is a tart and sweet snack that will make you think “Why didn’t I do this before?”
Makes 4 to 8 servings
Leather on dehydrator and plums by Nadia

Leather on dehydrator and bowl of ripe plums by Nadia Navarrete-Tindall.

Wild plum leather by Nadia

Wild plum leather by Nadia Navarrete-Tindall.

Nadia and MPF’s Grow Native! program recommend purchasing native edible plants from Grow Native! professional members and planting and gathering native edibles from your own personal property. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider if you have concerns about consuming any native edibles. Native edible recipes provided by MPF or MPF’s Grow Native! program are for informational purposes only.
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