Prune Pies, Plums, & Meme-worthy Poems

“Forgive me

they were delicious”

A while back, a reader asked about a prune whip pie. Her mother had made these long ago and she was searching for the recipe. I’d never heard of such a thing–pie from prunes. Why? Fortunately, I was able to find a copy of Farm Journal Complete Pie Cookbook (1965). I sold these, classic at the time, when I was in Future Farmers of America–my attempt to understand my new culture of Iowa. I also learned I did not want to raise animals–they are too much work and die too young–but I was darn good at selling these cook books. And, lo and behold, I found several prune pie recipes in my stained old copy.

The cookbook explained, and I should have guessed as much, how country folks had a “snow cupboard” filled with dried fruit, sugar, flour, and lard. If roads became impassable, snow cupboards held plenty of ingredients for dried fruit pies. Pies were shallow and round to literally cut corners and use less ingredients. Who knew!

Although raisins were the most popular fruit in this type of pie, the trusty cookbook had several entries using prunes. The closest to “Prune Whip” is this meringue pie.

Prune Meringue Pie

Bake 8″ pie shell

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

1 c. boiling water

2 eggs, separated

1 tblsp lemon juice

2 tsp grated lemon peel

2 tbsp butter or margerine

1 c cooked pitted prunes, drained

Meringue ( 2 egg whites)

Combine salr, sugar, water, and cornstarch. Stir in boiling water. Cook over direct heat until mixutre thickens and boild, stirring constantly.

Place in double boiler and cook 10 minutes. Beat egg yolks slightly and pour in half of the above mixture gradually. Then pour this into the rest of the mixture and cook for five minutes.

Remove form heat and add lemon juice, peel, and butter.Cool.

Arrange prunes in the cool pie shell.

Pour lemon mixture over the prunes.

Prepare meringue* and top pie with this.

*for 8 inch pie. Add another egg for 9 inch pie

2or 3 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tarter

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 c. sugar

Place egg whites, cream of tarter, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl at room temperature. Beat at medium speed until frothy but not stiff.

Add sugar a little at a time while beating. Beat until little peaks form and meringue is not grainy.

Put meringue around the edge of the filled pie, making sure to touch the crust to seal. Pile the remainder in the center of the pie and spread.Make sure filling is covered completely.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes util top is browned. Cool.

I have not made this. Perhaps adding cool whip (not baked) could substitute for the meringue step .

Although generally regarded as humble, prunes and plums contain plenty of fiber, potassium, and magnesium. Prunes are made from a special variety of plum which dry into the characteristic dark shriveled mass. They can keep you regular and even promote bone health. I once tried the recommended bone health diet but since it requires eating five prunes or even ten prunes a day, I quickly abandoned it. Plum trees are hardy, early bloomers and represent strength and endurance, but my endurance with the prune diet had its limits and an early end.

Plums aren’t just for prunes. Who can forget the famous and even meme-worthy 1934 ode to plums and efficiency of style written by William Carlos Williams. Here it is:

This is Just to Say

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

Speaking of iceboxes, there is a whole category of “icebox pies”. This pumpkin one looks wonderful. But of course, these will need to be saved for a different blog.

Looking for a pie recipe from the past? Drop me a line.

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