plums are a pleasantly juicy snack, but they should not be overlooked
as a savory ingredient in stuffings, stews and meat sauces, too.
Known for their juiciness and tart sweetness, plums are the second most
cultivated fruit worldwide (following the especially-popular apple
). Like apricots
plums have a hard pit surrounded by a sweet, soft flesh and skin. They
can be eaten fresh or used in a diverse range of sweet or savory
Plums have played a role in Chinese culture since at least 497 B.C.,
serving both as a popular food and as a mythological emblem of wisdom.
Already used as the symbol for the ancient Chinese city Nanjing, the
plum blossom was also named the national flower of the Republic of
China in 1964, and even Taiwan has begun to use the plum to symbolize
the Republic of China.
plums are the most widely-grown in
the U.S. Their skin ranges in color from deep red to the more common
dark purple, and their flesh is a light yellow. Due partly to their
content, these plums are frequently dried into prunes
can have a similar red or purple skin-color to the European plum, but
they also come in a yellow-green. These plums are less evenly-rounded
than the European variety, coming to a point on one end.
plums and the dark yellow Mirabelle
plums are small and very tart, and they are thus used primarily in jam or compote recipes.
• Other varieties
include the Santa Rosa, Satsuma, Laroda, Elephant Heart, El Dorado, Greengage, Golden/Yellowgage and Casselman plums.
A commonly-found alternative to fresh plums are dried plums, commonly known as prunes
While prunes are a sweet and nutritious snack, the prune industry is
plagued by the popular impression that the fiber-rich dried fruits
function solely as a quasi-laxative for the elderly. In an attempt to
sidestep the stereotypes and to appeal to a more widespread range of
consumers, there has been a recent marketing move to change the name of
prunes to “plum raisins
” or “dried plums.”
Fresh plums are usually available starting in late spring and ending mid-autumn.
the best plum can be a delicate task. Look for plums that are both firm
and tender: plums that are too hard can be bitter-tasting, but
overly-ripe plums are mealy. Error on the side of firmness as the plums
can be “softened” on your kitchen counter later.
with smooth, blemish- and bruise-free skin, and seek fruits that are
covered in a whitish haze, a natural powder referred to as the “bloom.”
A plum that retains its bloom is preferable because it has probably had
If plums are purchased before fully ripened, they can be very hard and
should be softened before eating. While plums won’t technically “ripen”
off the tree like some fruits can, they can soften when left at room
temperature for a couple days inside a loosely-closed paper bag.
Sticking an unripe banana in the bag alongside the plums may speed the
Soft, ripe plums can be kept for 3-4 days in the
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