American Classics: Pluma Moos

Pam Parrella

After a cool spring, the weather is finally starting to warm up and fruit is slowly returning to the greenmarket. With summer around the corner and plans shaping up for plenty of picnicking fun, I wanted to find a dessert that would be cool and refreshing, and showcase these first fruits. And where better to hunt for a farm fresh recipe than the Heartland? A casual mention of Pluma Moos on the Greater Midwestern Foodways Alliance site lead me to dig deeper into this Mennonite tradition to uncover a versatile recipe that's perfect for the season.

Like many heritage recipes, iterations of Pluma Moos abound and vary (sometimes greatly) by family. It's a dish that can be served hot or cold. You can pair it with cream or serve it solo. Some versions thicken it with cornstarch while others add decidedly modern J-E-L-L-O. No fresh fruit, no problem. You can even enjoy it in the winter with dried fruits like apricots, apples, and prunes.

While some sites attribute the recipe to German Mennonites, I emailed my college roommate and her mom said that she didn't have this soup growing up. She thinks it has its origins with Russian Mennonite groups who moved to Canada and the Western U.S. Whatever its providence, Pluma Moos has been a beloved comfort food for generations of pioneer folk. And needless to say the winter version was prized by generations of Mennonite moms and grans as a cure if you needed some, ahem, more regularity in your day.

With plums and rhubarb beginning to come into season, I couldn't resist doing a fresh fruit version, supplementing it with some mixed frozen fruit since the full summer bounty hasn't hit the markets yet. The ingredients are simple: fruit, sugar, spices, vanilla and water, and there's ample room for variation. Pour it over ice cream for dessert or add it to yogurt for a breakfast parfait. Just be sure to serve yourself extra, as there might not be any leftover when you move in for seconds.

Got a favorite classic American dessert recipe you'd like to see featured here? Email us with the subject: "American Classics."