Season for Plums May – October

Plums Described

Often, it’s the impeccable harmony between sweet and sour that gives plums their distinction – though at other times they are succulently sweet and still other times puckeringly tart. With over 2,000 varieties and over 140 available in the US alone, it’s up to each plum lover to find the right combination that suits their palate. Spanning a panorama of colors from green to scarlet to amber to deep purple to nearly black, with edible skins and a small pit, the plum is a drupe fruit related to the nectarine, peach and apricot. But plums enjoy much more diversity than their also delectable cousins. 

How to Buy and Store Plums

When selecting your plums, look for those that are plump, richly colored and firm but give slightly to palm pressure. You know your plum is ripe when it’s slightly soft at both the stem and the tip. That said, watch out for any shriveled skin or mushy spots. Also, avoid those with skin blemishes such as cracks or brown discolorations, the latter indicating sunburn. Very firm plums may be stored at room temperature until slightly soft and then refrigerated once ripe for up to 4 days. Make sure to avoid rock hard specimens for they will never reach true deliciousness. 

How to Cook Plums

We think – and you’ll probably agree – that plums are best when plucked from a tree and enjoyed as is. But their use can be varied and is only restricted by your imagination. First things first; try to eat plums at room temperature for they will taste their best. And, know that the milky film on some plums is entirely normal. Rinse your plums, and to pit them before eating or cooking, cut them in half lengthwise, and gently twist the halves in opposite directions so that you can carefully remove the pit. 

Plums can be baked or poached, or used much in the same way a peach or an pear would be. But consider featuring plums in a more unique way: They make a crowd-pleasing addition to bruschetta, can be broiled and used as a pizza topping with sage and a balsamic drizzle (try our Basil, Grape and Plum Goat Cheese Pizza) or added to yogurts and cereals for an extra zing. 

Health Benefits of Plums

Fresh plums enjoy regard for their high content of the unique phytonutrients neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid – classified as phenols – that function as antioxidants in the body, with anti-aging and disease-fighting properties. Plums also are known to stimulate the bowel movement from a substance in the skin (one reason you may be inclined to peel this fruit). But most of us could use a little improvement in our digestive systems. It’s no wonder that prunes are simply dried plums.  

Why Buy Natural and Organic Plums

According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program, 21 pesticide residues were found on conventional plums – 4 of which are known or probable carcinogens, 11 suspected hormone disruptors, 6 neurotoxins and 6 developmental or reproductive toxicants. While that may only be half of what’s found on conventional apples, it’s enough for us to say: Buy plums that have been organically grown, and avoid all that nasty stuff. 

image: Axel Buhrmann