Plum pudding or Christmas pudding, as it is more popularly known, has its origins in England. It is often served about Christmas time, or usually around Advent time. It has been a family tradition in many homes to have a "stir up Sunday", when each child is allowed to stir the pudding and make a wish.
What is Plum Pudding?
It's almost black color comes from the heavy dried fruits that are used to make it. Traditionally, plum puddings are boiled or steamed using a pudding cloth and would sometimes have charms mixed inside them. The charms may either be a silver coin, a silver thimble, anchor or ring which all stand for good things in life such as good luck, wealth, a happy marriage and a safe trip.
A plum pudding does not really have plums in it, but it is full of dried fruits and nuts,mixed with beef suet and citrus fruit juices or alcohol such as beer, rum or brandy. It is often dried out before it is served, as the longer it is allowed to dry, the stronger the flavor becomes. When it is ready to be served, it is steamed and some more alcohol or juice is spread on it to bring out a strong aroma. it may be served with a sprig of holly on top, some custard or cream, and is often decorated with caster sugar on top that somewhat resembles snow flakes.
Historically speaking, plum puddings probably originated in England during the Victorian period, around 1420. It was first prepared and served not as a dessert, but as a way to preserve meats and make them last all throughout periods when meats are not readily available. The various dried fruits were used as preservatives. During the reign of Elizabeth I, prunes were used and the name "plum pudding" evolved.
It was only during the mid 1800's that the dish became more popular as a food often served during the Christmas season. These days, ready made puddings are available in stores, specialty shops and supermarkets. Although home made plum puddings are still preferred as perfect gifts for relatives and friends during the Christmas season, ready made cooked puddings are just as good, without going through many hours of preparation.