Potawatomi Plum Sorbet


I was gifted with a huge bowl of the most gor­geous plums last week. I couldn’t take my eyes off the fruit. They looked like the most beau­ti­ful sum­mer sun­set sit­ting right in my hands. I imme­di­ately began to envi­sion what food might best show­case the color of these plums. My first thought was to juice them and make jelly, but it sure seemed like a lot of work for what might amount to 2 pints of fin­ished prod­uct. And, I guess it’s ok to admit that my jelly ven­tures often result in pan­cake syrup.

I set­tled on sor­bet.  Sim­ple. Easy. Beau­ti­ful. Unadorned. With no pesky ingre­di­ents to mix with and mud­dle the pret­ti­ness of the plums.

The end result was a very lovely pinky-orange dessert, with a deli­cious tart-sweet bal­ance, and tex­ture that only sor­bet can give you.

As the title of the recipe states, the fruit given to me were Potawatomi plums, which I hon­estly can’t give you too much infor­ma­tion about, except that in my neck of the woods, they were brought and planted by pio­neers, along with count­less other vari­eties of fruit trees. Not many peo­ple grow them on pur­pose, as they are con­sid­ered pest trees, but one can still find a tree here and there, and they are usu­ally very heavy-laden with fruit. Own­ers of these trees are always happy to share, and in spite of their small size, the plums were well worth pit­ting and made a very yummy sor­bet. If you can’t find Potawatomi plums, try to find a more tart plum sub­sti­tute. If you are just using reg­u­lar plums, be pre­pared for a sweeter sorbet.


Potawatomi Plum Sorbet


  • 2 1/2 lbs. ripe, pre­pared plums (washed, halved, and pits removed. Don’t remove the skins. About three pounds before pitting)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 table­spoons rasp­berry fram­boise (optional–helps give it a bet­ter con­sis­tency when frozen)


  1. Place the fruit, water, and sugar in a large saucepan. On medium-heat, bring mix­ture to a sim­mer. Let cook for 10 min­utes to soften the fruit and dis­solve the sugar. This mix­ture doesn’t need to boil.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool 15 min­utes before pureeing.
  3. Depend­ing on the size of your blender/processor, divide into batches to puree. Puree until quite smooth. There will be very, very small bits that make it into the final mix­ture, which helps add a great color to the sor­bet, and there will be larger bits that you want to strain out.
  4. Set a strainer over a large bowl. As you puree each por­tion, let it run through a strainer into a bowl to catch the big­ger bits of peel.
  5. Add the fram­biose at this point, if using. Cover, and chill very well in refrig­er­a­tor before freezing.
  6. Freeze in what­ever ice cream machine you use. If it holds 2 quarts or less, you might have to freeze it in two sep­a­rate batches.
  7. Serve right away if you like a soft sor­bet, freeze if you want scoops.



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  1. The pic­ture of those plums is deli­cious! So was the fresh taste of the sor­bet. YUM!

  2. Oh my gosh. It’s so beau­ti­ful I could cry. And not cry just because I don’t have a bowl of it sit­ting right here in front of me, either. Although I’m cry­ing about that, too.

  3. Looks Yummy to me! Are all sor­bets made like this or are they dif­fer­ent depend­ing on the fruits you use?

    • Ella–

      The process is pretty much the same for sor­bets. The ratio of ingre­di­ents will vary depend­ing on the type of fruit and sweet­ness of the fruit. You might get a slightly dif­fer­ent con­sis­tency with each fruit also. It’s pretty easy to play around though. Use this recipe as a jump­ing off point and adjust! A higher water ratio will make an icier sor­bet, more fruit puree, a creamier sor­bet. Some­thing like a lemon sor­bet using lemon juice instead of pulp will give you some­thing more like an Ital­ian ice.

      have fun exper­i­ment­ing and keep check­ing back for more sor­bet recipes!

      tammy @secretlifeofachefswife

  4. Oh, holy cow! (Do I always start my com­ments that way???) We are so men­tally con­nected! I’m plan­ning a 7-course menu for my daughter’s group of friends who are going to pref together, and I was just try­ing to decide on whether I would use a sor­bet for a palatte cleanser or not, when I saw this beau­ti­ful sor­bet! How can I not??? Seri­ously? My domes­tic god­dess friend has come through for me YET again! Our uni­verses have col­lided. Bless you and many, many thanks!

    • Ruth–

      Let us know how it turns out!

      tammy @secretlifeofachefswife

  5. I have a huge potawatomie plum tree in my yard. This year I finally picked them and made the most amaz­ing jelly. Will have to try mak­ing the sorbet.

    • We have tons of these fruit on our land, and I was won­der­ing about mak­ing some juice or jelly, but have no recipe, would you be will­ing to share your recipe with me? Thanks

  6. I just found this web page because of an inter­net search for the potawatomi plum. We have some wild plum bushes that are grow­ing as a nat­ural hedge or foil between our yard and the neigh­bors yard. The local quail use them to hide out dur­ing the day. Our home is 100 years old, and these plums have been native in this area since the Mor­mon pio­neer set­tled the area in the 1860s.
    I was try­ing to deter­mine what kind of plum they bore, and my mother sug­gested that they might be potawatomis. When I saw your pic­ture above, I knew instantly they were this vari­ety. They taste deli­cious. They are about the size of large cher­ries, and have a rose to yel­low color. The shrubs grow only about eight feet tall. I won­der if they have any value to his­tor­i­cal botanists for their value as a native Utah plant. I’ve never seen them nor heard men­tion of them any­where else but in 19th cen­tury Utah his­tory.
    Thanks for help­ing me to iden­tify this tasty and beau­ti­ful fruit.

    • Inter­est­ing his­tory! I know that potawatomi plums are rare to impos­si­ble to find cul­ti­vated, and my inter­net research yielded almost noth­ing in the way of use­ful infor­ma­tion. I think they are beau­ti­ful and am sad to think that as flood irri­gat­ing becomes more and more irreg­u­lar, that these shrub/trees that almost exclu­sively grow along ditch banks might all but dis­ap­pear. The tree that yielded our plums is about twenty-five feet tall which makes me won­der exactly how old it is and where it came from.

      • THese choice lit­tle babies graw every year on our canal back they cab be a pest. This year they are very plen­ti­ful and much sweeter. My hus­band has asked be do some­thing with them vor years but they always seemed to much trou­ble This I found you and will try this recipe thanks.

    • You’re wel­come and I agree. They are so beau­ti­ful! And I would think they were quite valu­able as a his­tor­i­cal plant. I’ll be sad if I see them dis­ap­pear in my lifetime.

  7. I found your blog as I was search­ing for Potowatomie plum recipes too! My MIL has sev­eral trees in her yard and since my new found pas­sion is can­ning, I’m going to try to make jam. She said the skins are bit­ter, so she was think­ing I’d have to remove them first. I noticed that you specif­i­cally said not to remove the skins for your sor­bet. Do you think the bit­ter­ness goes away when you cook them? I’m hop­ing so because I REALLY don’t want to peel hun­dreds of tiny plums. LOL Your pho­tos are gor­geous, by the way. I may save a few plums for sorbet. :)

  8. We had a few potawatomi trees in our back­yard when I was grow­ing up, and I would pick them and eat them and thought they were the best tast­ing thing I had ever ate as a child. My par­ents house is over a 100 years old and now all the trees are gone which were a big part of my child­hood so now I am try­ing to get my hands on some to plant and I can­not find them any­where! I really hope I am able to for they were a big part of my child­hood and I hope to make them a part of my Childrens

    • I know some peo­ple try to cul­ti­vate them from the seeds of exist­ing plants. I’m not sure how viable an option this is but it’s worth a try! I know what you mean about want­ing to pre­serve them to make them a part of your children’s lives too. Good luck!

    • I just pulled a tree from my par­ents yard to trans­plant. It is young and about 4 feet tall. They have some grow­ing along a fence line. I live in north east­ern utah. I am pretty sure it grew from a plum pit see­ing as it was about 8 feet from the orig­i­nal grove where an old gar­den plot is located. I am plant­ing it in one of my large flower beds out front.

  9. I was hop­ing to find a way to pur­chase some of these plums. Do you know where I could order them?

    • I have never seen them for sale. And I know that the avail­abil­ity for pick­ing them your­self is pretty scarce. Where I live, no one cul­ti­vates them. One has to keep their eye out for sur­viv­ing trees or bushes and appeal to the kind­ness of their owners.

  10. Would love to get a bag of pits to try and grow some of these his­toric trees. Does any­one want to ship me some? I’m in AZ, but have some high moun­tain prop­erty I’d like to exper­i­ment with these trees.

  11. how much does it make looks delicous

    • My ice cream freezer will hold up to 2 quarts. I might have had a lit­tle mix­ture left over to freeze in another batch, but that might be because I don’t like to over­fill my freezer. So I’d say 2 quarts. Hope this helps!

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