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Short Stories: Plum Pudding

Dec 20, 2012

by FiresCreations handmade and vintage goods

Here at Etsy, we believe that the story behind an object is often just as fascinating as the object itself. Short Stories is our series dedicated to telling the tales behind extraordinary pieces found or created by Etsy sellers.

Here’s Louise with her story behind a classic holiday treat.

Since medieval times, the plum pudding has been associated with Christmas in England and Ireland. My mother is from Ireland, and every year, my family makes a plum pudding for the holidays. The recipe I use came to me from my mother and grandmother, though it is likely much older.

Making a plum pudding is quite a lengthy process. A long list of ingredients are involved, but no plums! One day is used to gather and prepare all the ingredients and supplies. The next day, we mix everything together. Every family member takes it in turn to stir the pudding batter twelve times and make a wish.

After the pudding is mixed, it’s boiled and cooked, then whiskey is added.  The whiskey flavors and preserves the pudding. In my family, everyone sneaks and adds extra whiskey, which usually prompted my mum to ask, “Who’s been messing about with the plum pudding?” Once it has absorbed the whiskey for several weeks, it is ready to serve, but it can actually last a year if you keep adding whiskey to it each week.

On the big day, the pudding is boiled once more. To serve it, we turn out the lights, the pudding is put in place of pride, doused once more with whiskey, and lit on fire! Then, we serve it up with hard sauce, which has (you guessed it) more whiskey…

Have you ever tried plum pudding?

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1 Featured Comment

  • FourPoundsFlour

    Sarah Lohman from FourPoundsFlour said 6 years ago Featured

    Plum pudding is historically spelled "Plumb Pudding." Plumb--not the fruit, spelled "plum." Plumb can mean straight or vertical-or it can mean correct, right, true, dead-on. I think a plumb pudding was the name for a lovely, well made pudding. Although when I made a modern one, I like to add dried plums, cherries, strawberries and and kind of fruit I want!


  • greengrass2

    Liz from greengrass2 said 6 years ago

    Sounds delicious!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    I love a bit of boozy plum pudding at Christmas, it's warming and filling just what you need on cold winter days. I've seen a few people set theirs on fire but we've never been that brave!

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty said 6 years ago

    Looks tasty!

  • admin204

    Muna and Ed from TheRuralRabbit said 6 years ago

    I have made it almost every year for about 8 years or so! I got the recipe from a co-worker who was an actual British butler in years past- It is a great recipe, easy to make and love lighting it on fire!

  • ulovejewelry

    Universal Love Jewelry from ULoveJewelry said 6 years ago

    Have never tried it. Looks moist and flavorful..I want a little :)

  • TheNorthWayStudio

    Maria B. from TheNorthWayStudio said 6 years ago

    That looks absolutely wonderful!!

  • LilliansEnsembles

    Veronica Lewis from LilliansEnsembles said 6 years ago

    I have made mine but I used rum, I am from England and use my Great Grand mothers recipe. Love it, it is not Christmas without it.

  • nothingtralala

    Heather Parr from nothingtralala said 6 years ago

    We always used brandy for our Christmas pudding, after Christmas dinner my mum sticks some holly on the top, sets it on fire and sings 'good king wenceslas'!

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 6 years ago

    And I thought my rum balls were strong! With all that whiskey, who needs a cup of Holiday cheer? - just grab a bowl ; )

  • squinkus

    Emily Warner said 6 years ago

    I've heard plums used to be a generic term for dried fruit. I also like the snapdragon English tradition. You like raisins on a tray on fire, then try to grab some through the flames.

  • MrsGingerandWasabi

    Marta DQ from tribomo said 6 years ago

    Wonderful story! I'd love to try it!

  • Parachute425

    Terry from Parachute425 said 6 years ago

    Pudding. Whiskey. Fire. Now that's a party!

  • christineshmisteen

    CHRISTINE SHMISTEEN from TheArtOfFinerThings said 6 years ago

    HAHAHA @Parachute425

  • beatriceeornella

    Ornella e Beatrice from IlCadeauDiPenelope said 6 years ago

    Soooo delish!!!! we loooove pudding and expecially the Christmas one! yum!!

  • fineartstoneware

    fineartstoneware from fineartstoneware said 6 years ago

    I have always wondered about plum pudding!

  • marinta

    Marina Bancheva from aBanchOfFashion said 6 years ago

    Wow that's interesting! I have never heard about the Plum Pudding before :AND Thanks for the story! :D

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 6 years ago

    Traditional English xmas pudding is usually made with brandy, but any spirit can be used. It should be set alight then carried in a flaming procession to the table to be served up with brandy butter (although I prefer ice cream) If it's soaked for more than a couple of weeks it's amazing how much liquor the fruit will absorb... the raisins end up as fat as grapes again, but filled with brandy instead of grape juice! Don't forget to add a silver sixpence, whoever gets it in their serving will have a lucky year... but you must warn your guests for the sake of their teeth! When I first started school, the whole infant's class lined up to stir the pudding every year... clockwise to stir the luck in.

  • ArtDecoDame

    Desiree from ArtDecoDame said 6 years ago

    Sounds delicious!

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 6 years ago

    Yum! When I was living in London I went to a Xmas dinner where it was served, and I found the sixpence, which is supposed to be good luck.

  • kgpaintings

    Kirsten Gilmore from PaintingsByKEGilmore said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your holiday tradition with us. I'm guessing many Americans only know Christmas pudding from Charles Dickens.

  • unastigsdottir

    Una Stigsdottir from Unaberries said 6 years ago

    Nammi namm.

  • karlyrose1

    WhiteKittenCreations from WhiteKittenCreations said 6 years ago

    My late aunt used to make fruit cakes in July. She wrapped them in cheesecloth, added brandy and stored them in tins in her basement. Every week she added more brandy till Christmas. Like Patrick said, who needs a cup of cheer?

  • xZOUix

    Zoui from XZOUIX said 6 years ago

    oh my :::-) i could use a piece of cake ::::-) :P :P :P happy holidays to all! :)

  • misschristiana

    Christiana Odum from YarnDarlin said 6 years ago


  • irinisklavounou

    irini from IrinisWorld said 6 years ago

    I am surprised how few Americans know about plum pudding. Over the years we spent building the Handbuilt Hotel, most of our plucky volunteers were Americans so i have regularly served up an xmas dinner complete with fired up plum pudding and brandy butter to the mostly unsuspecting and astonished diners......

  • PurpleBlossomStudio

    Erin Waite from PurpleBlossomStudio said 6 years ago

    I used to make it every year, but got out of the practice. I miss it! Next year... (lighting it on fire sounds super fun!)

  • FourPoundsFlour

    Sarah Lohman from FourPoundsFlour said 6 years ago Featured

    Plum pudding is historically spelled "Plumb Pudding." Plumb--not the fruit, spelled "plum." Plumb can mean straight or vertical-or it can mean correct, right, true, dead-on. I think a plumb pudding was the name for a lovely, well made pudding. Although when I made a modern one, I like to add dried plums, cherries, strawberries and and kind of fruit I want!

  • HandiworkinGirls

    HandiworkinGirls from HandiworkinGirls said 6 years ago

    I always thought it was meant to be made with plums. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to light a whiskey-soaked pudding on fire!

  • scallycap1

    scallycap1 said 6 years ago

    In Ireland we always heat it before eating and pour warm Birds custard all over. Ice cream and jelly is a good addition too. Takes a while to make but perfect sweet and savoury dessert.

  • DanasaurDesigns

    Dana Lauren from DanasaurDesigns said 6 years ago

    I'd love to have the recipe if you are willing to share!

  • LeasaMarie

    Leasa from LeasaDesigns said 6 years ago

    Looks yummy!! :)

  • AeridesDesigns

    AeridesDesigns from AeridesDesigns said 6 years ago

    My Mum orders one from england every year so we can have it in the U.S. We light it with brandy, and serve with whipped heavy cream. It is an acquired taste however, and neither my husband or brother in law have gone back for seconds!

  • LilliPilliJewellery

    Corinne from LilliPilliJewellery said 6 years ago

    I live in Australia so Christmas is in the middle of our summer - we still love a good plum pudding though. It's made traditionally, soaked in booze and set on fire with great ceremony. We team it with ice cream in a concession to the weather (usually hot). I can't understand why anyone could not love plum pudd. Oh well, all the more for you AeridesDesigns.

  • ThreeStonesJewelry

    Rossana from RossanaJewelryDesign said 6 years ago

    Where's the recipe?:)

  • Auntiesoapworts

    Auntiesoapworts from BrackenfernCottage said 6 years ago

    I enjoyed your article. A recipe would be wonderful please.

  • LisaHanis

    LisaHanis said 6 years ago

    I believe plumb pudding is so named because it is cooked in a bag that is hung by a string over boiling water -- steamed (not "boiled"). It is like a plumb bob because it hangs just that way over the steaming water. And if you've ever tasted it, a plum pudding is "correct, right, true, dead-on."

  • pinksnakejewelry

    pinksnakejewelry from pinksnakejewelry said 6 years ago

    Great Post!!! Sounds Yummy!!! Recipe?

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 6 years ago


  • beulahforrestercampb

    B Forrester from MinasOnlineBoutique said 6 years ago

    love plum pudding but never made it even though I love to bake .

  • GnomeLady

    Marissa Lauer said 6 years ago

    My grandmother is from Ballymote, Co. Sligo, Ireland. In my family we make whiskey fruitcake rather than plum pudding. Perhaps its a regional thing? Where is your family from?

  • sandrostumpo

    Sandro Stumpo from GalleryDiModa said 6 years ago

    Hardcore pudding! Everyone will be too drunk to care if their present is not so good.

  • BaxCatandCo

    Kelly from BaxCatandCo said 6 years ago

    I had no idea what went into making this; thanks for enlightening me!

  • claudetteherman

    claudette from ZNextDesigns said 6 years ago

    This looks so delicious! Now I must find a recipe to try before the New Year.

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 6 years ago

    I've never had plum pudding, but this sounds great! It's interesting that English puddings are a completely different food than American puddings.

  • hasincla

    hasincla from travelwanderings said 6 years ago

    I used to think that hard sauce tasted terrible...when I was seven. Now I love it! It's interesting that there aren't any plums in the did I get it's name I wonder? I also really like the tradition of stirring the pudding and making a wish. :)

  • butikonline83

    Hendri . from butikonline83 said 6 years ago

    The best!!

  • Namaz

    Nazima Banka from nazimabanka said 6 years ago

    lovely little tale

  • StayArtisan

    J.K. Ramirez from HudsonBlueArtisans said 6 years ago

    looks good, where is the recipe

  • nativestrandsjewelry

    Rachel from PeppersJewelry said 6 years ago

    Sounds good. Thanks!

  • amysfunkyfibers

    Amy Gunderson from amysfunkyfibers said 6 years ago

    Sounds delicious!

  • creativebynatureCM

    Christa Marie from CreativeByNatureCM said 6 years ago

    but what does it actually taste like?? I'm curious!!! :)

  • WoodsyWools

    ACR from WoodsyWools said 6 years ago

    looks so tastey !

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