When you see a small group of shoppers in a fruit department in front of baskets of side-by-side peaches and plums, chances are very strong most will choose peaches for their bags. The truth is, fresh plums are not very popular, though their “afterlife” as prunes, gives them a second crack at popularity. Almost no one puts plums on cold cereal, they don’t cut well, they just sort of crumble-under and, for some reason, we don’t see cartons of plumb juice for sale.
As boring as they seem, we’re told plums exist in more than 2,000 varieties, with 100 of them available in the U.S. Plum skins can range from reddish purple to blackish-blue to reddish-amber. Its flesh can run from pale yellow to medium orange.
Plums are related to some of their more popular competitors, to the fuzzy peach to the bald nectarine and also to the almond. It’s pit allows it to be called a “drupe” fruit.
Now, plums do get a bit more interesting in other cultures. The Chinese, for example, make great use of plum sauce a sweet-sour dipping sauce for spring rolls, roast duck and egg rolls. The plums are accented with vinegar, chili peppers and ginger.
Cooks in south Asia serve a plumb wine they make. The Taiwanese learned, after WWII, to concoct a mixture of smoked plum liquor, prune liquor and oolong tea.
Because there are so many varieties of plums, it stands to reason plums developed early in a variety of places in Europe as well as Asia. And, believe it or not, the pilgrims are said to have packed along some plums on their great Atlantic crossing. Today, plums are raised in most parts of the world.
Look to plums to boost your intake of vitamins C and A, also fiber. Most of this is in the plum’s skin.
As with all fruits, look for ones which are firm, not bruised or wrinkled in any way. If you purchase under-ripe plums, they will ripen well in a paper bag after about two days.
Once ripe, refrigerate in a plastic bag for three days, at the most. Do not wash them until ready to eat.
SERVING SUGGESTIONS AND GO-WITHS
- Goat cheese, walnut pizza
Foodsites with plum recipes.