Sugarplums

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

sugarplums, in their traditional form, are sweetmeats made of dried fruits—not necessarily plums (prunes), but also figs, apricots, dates, and cherries in any combination—formed into an oval or round shape and rolled in sugar. Chopped almonds, honey, and spices such as aniseed, cardamom, fennel seeds, and caraway were sometimes included, further varying the basic recipe.

The association of sugared fruits with goodness has a long history. Fresh fruits preserved in honey were eaten for pleasure in ancient China and India, and throughout the Middle East, ancient Egypt, and classical Greece. In Europe, during the rise of the Roman Empire, sweetness in the form of preserved fruits became a metaphor for civilization and the virtues of the rule of law, a concept as much philosophical as practical. See ancient world.