Plums are red globes of juicy fruit bursting with sweet summer flavours. A main player in the summer stone fruits line-up, they are perfect on their own or in a fruit salad with other stone fruits. Their tart skins are a great compliment to their sweet flesh and they are high in vitamin C and fibre. Like most fruit and vegetables, the brighter the colour, the higher in nutrients and antioxidants they are.
There are many varieties of and the skin colours range from a pale gold to dark purple. The flesh ranges from bright yellow to dark red blood colours. Some plums are clingstone and some freestone - which refers to how the flesh clings to the stone. For recipes where you need to remove the stone, it's best to try to choose a freestone variety for ease of stone removal. Plums are generally round or oval shaped.
- Yellow flesh varieties are: Wilson, Angelina, Santa Rosa, Narrabeen and President.
- Red flesh varieties are : Blood plums, Mariposa, Black amber and Black diamond.
How to select and store plums
Plums are in season in New Zealand from late December to early March. When selecting you need to choose plums that are smooth, and plump and heavy for their size. Try to avoid those with a broken skin or blemishes. To ripen plums just keep them at room temperature. When ripe, store in the refrigerator crisper for up to 5 days. Take care not to bruise, squeeze or squash these fruit as they are delicate.
Best ways to cook plums
Plums may be eaten raw, dried (prunes), baked into pies, made into conserves and compotes, covered in pastry for dumplings and oven roasted to bring out their sweet flavours. They make a beautiful sauce and are often used in Chinese cooking in this form.
How to cook plums
To make a simple plum compote
- Take 500g of plums. Rinse, cut in half and remove seeds and stalks
- Place in a saucepan with 1 cup of water, a teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
- Bring to the boil and reduce heat and place lid on. Simmer for 5 minutes and serve hot or cold with ice-cream or natural yoghurt.
To ripen your plums quickly, place them in a paper bag with a ripe banana.