Powidl is a plum butter or very thick plum jam that is very often used as a filling in desserts in the Austrian kitchen. I love Austrian Germknödel, a sweet thick yeast dumpling filled with Powidl that is drizzled with melted butter and topped with a poppyseed sugar.

To make Powidl, it is best to use very ripe, sweet Italian plums as there is no sugar added in this traditional recipe. A lot of old recipes do not even add any spices at all. It is easy to make but requires time and a lot of stirring -  well worth it. And when plums are in season and you are lucky to have a big tree in your garden but feel like you can't handle the abundance, this is an easy way to make good use of a lot of fruit.

  • 5 pounds of plums
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground cloves (or 10 whole)
  • 1 cinnamon stick

There are hundreds of different recipes to make Powidl. Some blanch the plums to remove the skins, which I think is a lot of unnecessary work as the skins will completely dissolve. Some recipes skip the pit removal entirely and boil the plums until the seeds are released, then strain the sauce to catch the pits. Some recipes use a lot of different spices and others use none.

I always cut the plums in half to remove the pit (and check that they are free of worms). Then I pour about 1/2 cup of water in a large heavy stock pot and add the plums and spices. Place the lid on the pot and bring to a simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid after about 1/2 hour and continue to simmer with the lid off. The plums will slowly turn into a sauce. If you have used whole spices or have not removed the pits you have to strain the sauce through a sieve to catch the spices, and/or pits, but add the pulp back into the sauce. And don’t worry if you have used whole cloves and have lost some of them in the process - I always do - they completely disappear. But honestly, I think the easiest way to make this plum butter is to remove the pits prior to boiling and to add ground cloves (or no spices at all) which means that you do not have to strain anything through a sieve.

Simmer the Powidl for about 3 hours on very low heat, stirring often, until the sauce has turned into a thick plum butter. It's done when it thickly coats a spoon when hot and is spreadable like a medium soft butter when cool. The color will be dark, dark purple. Be careful not to burn it! The last half hour is when you must watch the Powidl quite closely. It is amazing how much it reduces. The 5 pounds of plums will barely fill 3 pint jars in the end.

Meanwhile prepare the canning jars. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Wash the canning jars, lids and bands in hot soapy water, rinse well and place them on a clean cookie sheet. Let them dry in the oven and cook for at least 20 minutes. The jars must be hot when you fill them with the Powidl.

Prepare your water-bath canner to process the jars after filling or you can use a large stock pot. Use a rack or other type of spacer in the bottom of the stock pot so that the jars will not sit directly on the bottom of the pot. Fill the pot with enough water to completely cover the jars by one inch. Heat the water to simmer. Cover the pot with a lid until ready to use.

While the sauce is still hot fill the hot jars. Leave 3/4" of headspace at the top. Wipe the rims of the jars and apply the lids and bands. Do not over-tighten. Place the jars into the water-bath canner to process or submerge the jars into the simmering water in your prepared stock pot. Make sure that the jars are completely covered with water by about one inch. Boil for 15 minutes. After the time is up, turn off the heat but leave the jars in the hot water for an additional 5 minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the hot water with tongs or a jar lifter and place them on a clean kitchen towel to cool. Do not disturb the jars. After 24 hours test the jars to make sure they are properly sealed. If the lids of the jars are “pulled in” and there is no popping sound when you press down on the lid the jar is properly sealed.

Powidl can be used to fill sweet dumplings and cakes or you can just eat it on a piece of rustic bread. Add it to gravy, use it to baste a  roast, make a marinade or use in stews. Or add it to red cabbage, a stir-fry or a ragù alla bolognese.


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