Mmm – the Okanagan plum is so smooth and juicy sweet tasting! With a ranging appearance from yellow to almost black, the flesh can taste tart to very sweet and juicy. As a rule of thumb, the lighter coloured skins are have sweeter skins and the darker skins are bitter and tarter tasting.
Closely related to cherries, apricots, and peaches, plums are referred to as a stone fruit, because they contain a stone (pit) in the center of the flesh. Early in the season, you’ll find ‘clingstone’, while ‘freestone’ is showcased later in the summer.
Moreover, whether they are BC fresh or a winter import, plums are either Japanese or European. Japanese varieties come in various shapes, sizes, and colours, except for purple or blue. European plums, on the other hand, are smaller, oval-shaped fruits, and usually purple or blue, elongated, and of the prune plum variety.
Incidentally, when plums are dried they are known as ‘prunes.’
Tasting a black plum from the Okanagan is so amazing! This plum variety has a dark purple to black coloured skin with a firm, but juicy amber to yellow coloured flesh. The flesh provides a somewhat tart to sweet flavour.
How to Enjoy Of course the pit is removed when the flesh is used as an ingredient in pies, salads, puddings, desserts, or jams and for eating fresh.
HOW TO CHOOSE
Plums are generally available in produce markets from May through the early fall, but can be tracked down year-round.
Choose full coloured plump, well-rounded plump plums that are tender to the touch and that have smooth, uniform skin. Look for those that retain the ‘bloom,’ a natural white powder-like haze covering the fruit, since these are likely to have received the least handling. They should also be free of punctures, cracks, bruises or any signs of decay.
If you want to purchase plums that are ripe and ready to eat, look for ones that are somewhat firm yet yield to gentle pressure and that are slightly soft at their tip. Avoid excessively hard fruit as they will be immature and will probably not develop a good taste and texture profile.
When plums are picked before they are ripe, they can naturally ripen at room temperature, or placed in a paper bag with an unripe banana for a day or two to speed up the process. In fact, they can become overripe all too quickly. Once they are ripe, plums can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Brought home ripe, unwashed plums keep for about five days in the refrigerator.
To freeze, removing their stone pits before placing them in the freezer will ensure maximum taste.
Rinse thoroughly. 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.
With a freestone variety plum, to remove the pit before eating or cooking, cut in half lengthwise, gently twist the halves in opposite directions to free the stone and then carefully take out the pit.
Cooking plums are typically prepared with the skin on, but if the skin is to be removed, blanche the plum for 30 to 40 seconds in boiling water. Then immediately transfer the fruits to the sink of running cold water to stop the blanching process and allow for easier handling. Peel.
Plums are delightful eaten fresh, but can also be used in a variety of recipes and are usually baked or poached.
Well-known in jams and jellies, or sauces, puddings, pies, tarts, cakes, and even soufflés. Like pineapple, they are the sweet ingredient of sweet-and-sour sauces, such as hoisin sauce, and are a terrific enhancement to meats. They can also be added to stuffing and stews to provide a moist, flavourful texture.
The European plums or freestone variety holds together well for cooking and is often dried and made into prunes or canned, yet it is tremendous for snacking. The Japanese plums, which are clingstone fruits, are used for snacking, cooking, pickling, and canning.
Quick Serving Suggestions
Add plum slices to cold cereal.
Gourmet pizza: broil sliced plums, goat cheese, walnuts, and sage on top of a whole-wheat pita bread or pizza crust.
Sweet Bread: Bake pitted plum halves in a 200ºF (93ºC) oven until they are wrinkled. Blend into a rye bread recipe for a sweet yet hardy bread.
Cold Soup: Blend stewed plums and combine with yogurt and honey.
Desert Sauce: Sauté quartered plums and brown sugar in a little butter until soft. Serve over vanilla ice cream.
Dessert: poach plums in a red wine and serve with lemon zest.
Dried plum puree can reduce the fat in baked goods by 50% to 90%. Simply substitute the mixture for all or part of the butter, margarine or oil in a recipe, using half the measure called for (e.g. if the recipe calls for one cup of oil, use 1/2 cup dried plum puree instead). This works best in soft, moist, and chewy foods, like cookies, cakes, brownies, and quick breads.
May be used as a substitute for cherries in recipes.
The plums famous laxative effect seems to be credited mostly to plums’ natural supply of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol. However, significant antioxidant protection from phenols may aid the laxative effect, as well as delay glucose absorption.
The plums high levels of phenolic compounds have made them antioxidant superstars – surpassed only by wild blueberries and cranberries. Their lutein and zeaxanthin phytonutrients are antioxidants that may protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Plum, 1 fruit (raw)
Total Fat: 0.41g
*Good source of: Vitamin C (6.2mg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.
Besides being consider fruit, the English language has created a secondary, more descriptive meaning to the name: “desirable,” as in sugarplums, for example, and plum pudding.
If somebody is considered being “plum crazy,” the saying is actually misspelled. The meaning is actually referring to the absolute straightness of a ‘plumb’ line.
Wow! Neither plum duff nor plum pudding actually contains plums or prunes. In old English usage, the word plum was loosely used to refer to all dried fruit! Therefore, our childhood nursery rhyme visions have been shattered, since ‘Little Jack Horner’ would have pulled out raisins when sticking his thumb into a Christmas pie.
- Japanese plums are a round or heart-shaped clingstone fruit, actually originated in China centuries ago. Introduced to North America in the late 19th century didn’t sway Russia, China and Romania to be included as some of the main producers of commercially grown plums.
- European plums have a golden-coloured, dense, drier flesh. They are a smaller, oval-shaped fruit with darker purple skins. With an estimated discovery of around two thousand years ago, they originated in the area near the Caspian Sea. Their North America launch was via the United States in the 17th century.
- Plums belong to the Prunus genus of plants and are relatives of the peach, nectarine apricot, and almond. Fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds are called ‘drupes.’
- Another way to categorize plums is by use, such as a ‘dessert’ plum or a ‘cooking’ plum.
- Dessert plums are known for being sweet and juicy. Great for cooking, stewing, and eating out of hand as a fresh plum. Dessert plums can be served for snacks, fresh fruit salads and desserts, or cooked into soufflés, compotes, pies, tarts, and sauces.
- Cooking plums tend to be tart tasting. The flesh has a drier consistency that holds up well when heated to high temperatures.