Also Known as
There are few fruits that come in such a panorama of colors as the juicy sweet tasting plum. The plum season extends from May through October with the Japanese varieties first on the market from May and peaking in August followed by the European varieties in the fall.
Plums belong to the Prunus genus of plants and are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond. They are all considered "drupes," fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds. When plums are dried, they are known as prunes. One of the unique things about plums is that there are so many varieties available. So, if you are looking for a juicy, sweet tasting fruit that comes in a panorama of colors, plums are for you.
Plums are classified into six general categories-Japanese, American, Damson, Ornamental, Wild and European/Garden-whose size, shape and colors vary. Although usually round, plums can also be oval or heart-shaped. The skins of plums can be red, purple, blue-black, red, green, yellow or amber, while their flesh comes in hues such as yellow, green and pink and orange-a virtual rainbow. Most plums sold commercially are sweet and somewhat juicy, and vary in their crispness.
Immerse the whole plums into cool water and dry with paper towels before cutting. Use a sharp knife to carefully slice off the top and the bottom. A serrated knife works best for items that have a softer interior and tougher exterior. Stand the plum on end and carefully slice down through the sides, discarding the seed in the center.
Boil down fresh plums for about 10 mins. Keep it aside and let it cool. Remove the pit and then blend it in a grinder with sugar as needed till smooth and soft paste id obtained. Add water as per the consistency required to make a thick puree
If you want to slice, first remove the pit. Cut the plum in half lengthwise, gently twist the halves in opposite directions and then carefully take out the pit. Slice it using a sharp knife thickly or thinly as desired.
How to Select
Select unwrinkled, smooth-skinned fruits with no blemishes, free of soft spots or discolorations. The grayish sheen on plums is perfectly natural and does not affect quality. There are thousands of varieties of plums which can range in color from green to red to deep purple to almost black. The skins are edible and usually eaten, while the small pit is discarded. Fresh plums are available from May to late October.
If the plums seem a little hard, leave them at room temperature for a few days to soften up, but be aware they will not actually ripen further to develop more sugar like some fruits.
Canned and dried plums (prunes) are also available when fresh plums are not in season.
" Plums are delicious eaten as is.
" If the plums have been in the refrigerator, allow them to approach room temperature before eating them as this will help them attain the maximum juiciness and sweetness.
" Plums can also be used in a variety of recipes and are usually baked or poached.
" Make pizza with a twist by broiling sliced plums, goat cheese, walnuts and sage on top of a whole wheat pita bread or pizza crust.
" For a delightful dessert, poach plums in a red wine and serve with lemon zest.
" Bake pitted plum halves in a 200ºF (93ºC) oven until they are wrinkled. Then mix them into a rye bread recipe for scrumptiously sweet and hardy bread.
" Blend stewed plums and combine with yoghurt and honey for wonderful cold soup.
" Add plum slices to cold cereal.
" Chop plums into your next fruit salad to add a hint of purple.
" Add plums, along with your favorite fruits, as a topping for frozen yogurt.
" Mix together chopped plums, blueberries, nectarines, and strawberries to spoon over waffles and pancakes for a colorful and nutritious addition to breakfast.
" Plums are delightful eaten fresh, and can be stewed, used in jams and jellies, or made into compotes, puddings, pies, and cakes.
" They can also be added to stuffing and stews.
" Use plums as a substitute in recipes calling for cherries.
" Plum Jam made from fresh plums is wonderful on toasts, puddings or bread rolls.
" Plum Ginger Cookies is an great accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee.
How to Store
Refrigerate ripe plums in a plastic bag and use within four days. Wash just before using. To soften hard plums, place several in a loosely closed paper bag and leave them at room temperature for a day or two; when softened, transfer them to the refrigerator. Ripe plums can be refrigerated for up to three days.
Plums are juiciest at room temperature, but always wash them before eating or cooking.
" Plums are a good source of vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C., and fiber.
" Plums are high in carbohydrates, low in fat and low in calories.
" Plums are free of sodium and cholesterol.
" Plums stimulate the bowel movement. Its skin contains a substance that is responsible for that effect so if you peel the fruit you won't be bothered with the well-known side effects of this lovely fruit
" Plums have high antioxidant ability and offer a high level of defense against free radicals.
" Plums have many beneficial health properties, they contain unique phytonutrients which guards against cold, flu, atherosclerosis, asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, stroke, cancer, age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and they can lower cholesterol levels.
" Plums can also increase the ability to absorb iron by the body.
" Boosts immune system.