Pickled green plums – a Middle Eastern springtime treat

About a week ago I was in town and needed to buy some fruit and veg. I nipped into the nearest grocers, which happened to be one of Cambridge’s fabulous Middle Eastern shops. But when I got to the till, my purchases didn’t quite come to £5, which was the minimum for a credit card purchase. So, I quickly looked around and grabbed what I thought was a punnet of greengages, to make up the difference.

Once home, I realised my mistake. These weren’t greengages, they were small, unripe, sour green plums! Picked early, before they have time to mature and develop, these fruits are a seasonal treat across the Middle East. They are usually eaten raw, dipped into salt, or else pickled. I tried one raw, but to my untrained palate it was much too sour! I consulted an Israeli friend, and she encouraged me to have a go at pickling, instead.

Unripe plums are transformed into crunchy, moreish salty-sour-spicy delights! Pickled green plums are a seasonal treat in Israel & across the Middle East.

There are numerous ways to pickle green plums, and a quick google search revealed regional variations from Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Morocco and more*. In the end, I settled on this simple recipe from Creative Jewish Mom, which is based on one from her husband’s Moroccan family. I didn’t fancy the chilis though, and was going to use an un flavoured brine, but at the last minute I threw in some coriander seeds and star anise. You know I can never leave anything plain, right?!

These pickled green plums were so simple to make, and they looked amazing – the plums are so very fresh and green and vibrant! I can see why these are seen as a herald of Spring 🙂 After a week, I tentatively opened the jar and tried a pickled plum…

Unripe plums are transformed into crunchy, moreish salty-sour-spicy delights! Pickled green plums are a seasonal treat in Israel & across the Middle East.

And it was delicious! Seriously good. I could probably have munched down half the jar, but I managed to control myself so that I could take some photos! As you can see, the once-green plums have changed colour somewhat, losing their bright green hue and becoming a mellow brownish yellow. They have also lost their overpowering sourness, taking on a wonderful sour-salt-spicy flavour while retaining their fabulous crunch.

I think these pickled green plums will be great with cheeses or humous, as part of a picnic or mezze platter, as the garnish in a dry martini, or anywhere you might serve olives or capers. Or you can just chomp them straight from the jar!

I don’t know how long the sour green plum season lasts, so look out for them now in your local Middle Eastern shops. 

Unripe plums are transformed into crunchy, moreish salty-sour-spicy delights! Pickled green plums are a seasonal treat in Israel & across the Middle East.

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Pickled sour green plums
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
33 calories
8 g
0 g
0 g
1 g
0 g
331 g
10620 g
7 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 33
Calories from Fat 3
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 10620mg
Total Carbohydrates 8g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 7g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 200-250g unripe sour green plums
  2. 1.5 tbsp coarse salt
  3. 1 star anise
  4. 0.5 tsp coriander seeds
  5. Boiled water
  1. Wash the plums. Using a sharp knife score a line around each plum.
  2. Sterilise a medium jar with boiling water. Pack the prepared plums into the jar.
  3. Add the salt, star anise and coriander seeds to the jar, then poured boiled (but slightly cooled) water to fill the jar. Screw the lid on tightly.
  4. All the water to cool completely, then put the jar in the fridge and allow to pickle for at least a week.
  5. Eat and enjoy!
  1. Store the pickled plums in the fridge once the jar has been opened.
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*These sour plums are known as shazifim yerakim in Israel, gojeh sabz in Iran, jarareng in Lebanon, erik in Turkey, and janarek in Jordan.

If you’re wondering what I did with the remaining plums in the punnet, I cooked them up with some sugar to make a green plum compote. It wasn’t bad, but the pickled green plums were better!


  1. Just curious, the recipe ends with plums in the fridge, then with a note saying they need to be in the fridge after opening. When did they leave the fridge?

    • Um, every time you remove the jar from the fridge to eat one?
      Really it’s just a reminder to people that once pickled, the plums still need to be refrigerated. I’m sorry if that wasn’t completely clear.

  2. Annette Anderson

    Can I use unripe plums for this

  3. Thanks so much. Went shopping with my 10 year old son yesterday and he wanted to buy these four green plums to try and to pickle – I wasn’t sure if they could be pickled but I was reaffirmed that they can. My son and I will have fun. Thanks so much

  4. Not to my taste!

    BUT after 1 week, drain the brine and discard – refill the jars with distilled vinegar, replace lids – leave for another week AND then they truly are so delicious.

  5. Gotta love those friends in Israel… 🙂

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