In Season: Plums
Finally…plum season has arrived! This juicy stone fruit is only in season a short period of time. Be sure to enjoy it while it lasts.
The plum ( Prunus domestica, Rosaceae) belongs to the rose family with cherries, peaches, and apricots. There are hundreds of plum varieties grown throughout the world. Common varieties include French, Italian, Imperial, Greengage, Long John, Castelton, and Fellenburg.
Plums grow on trees in clusters, have smooth skin and a pit in the center. Plums can be oval or round in shape. The skin can be deep purple, red, green, blue, or multicolored. The flesh can be orange, red, purple, yellow, or white. Plums also vary in taste—some are sweet while others are tart. They’re available from July through October.
One medium plum contains 30 calories, 8 grams carbohydrates and is a good source of vitamin C. They also provide fiber, beta-carotene, and potassium. They’re bursting with the antioxidants neochlorogenic and chologenic acid. Dried plums (a.k.a prunes) contain triple double the antioxidants than the fresh varieties.
Studies have suggested that plums may play a role in helping lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol and may help protect against some forms of cancer (including colon cancer).
Nothing beats sinking your teeth into a fresh, juicy plum, but there are so many other ways to enjoy this summer fruit. Raw plums can be added to salads, cereals or yogurt. Top pancakes, waffles, or French toast with sliced plums. They make amazing jams, sauces, and chutneys – perfect over pork or poultry. They can also be baked into muffins, pies, tarts and cakes.
1 pound fresh plums = 6 to 8 whole plums = 2 ½ cups sliced = 2 cups cooked
Shopping Tip: Choose plums that are shiny, plump, and firm to the touch. Avoid moldy, soft, bruised or those with broken skin. A little brown discoloration on the skin indicates sunburn, but are safe to eat. Unripe plums continue to ripen after picked – place in a closed paper bag at room temperature for 1 to 2 days. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »