To me, plums signalize that Fall is just around the corner. In Germany, plums start appearing in the stores around August and last till October. So when I see the delicious, purple colored fruit in the stores I know we are on the cusp of the seasons.
So, I welcome Fall, with a new banner to create the right atmosphere for my readers and look forward to celebrate the rich and colorful produce it offers.
Going to the Farmer’s Market or to my local organic store is always a great pleasure, but right now just as summer dwindles and fall takes control, it's pure bliss. How wonderful is the variety of fresh produce right now? I still see raspberries and peaches, stacked next to apples, pears and figs. There are those wonderful red tomatoes and green zucchini lined up next to the rainbow chard and pumpkins.
Plums are however, my current favorite. I recently bought a 2 kilo basket from my organic store and was in sweet heaven with each luscious bite I took. Two kilos of pure juicy fruit!
While we enjoyed most of them pure I did make several interesting creations with the plums. There are not many types of fruit that come in such a huge variety and colorful panorama as plums. Each variety tastes different, highlighting a wonderful array of flavors and versatility these fruit offer.
You will find that plum season extends from May through October depending where you are in the world. The Japanese varieties are the first in the markets, arriving in May and peaking in August. The European plums follow closely, from August and extend throughout Fall till October.
Plums are related to cherries, peaches and almonds and belong to the extensive Prunus family They are classified as stone fruits and believed to have originated in Asia. Plum trees have been cultivated all over the world since ancient times. It is reported that Native Americans consumed wild plums prior to the arrival of the Europeans and till today the wild variety is still consumed.
Temperate regions are where the plum trees grow best, producing purple, red, orange, yellow, or light green fruit. Colder temperatures may brown the color of the fruit , giving it an unappealing appearance.
Plums and Prunes (dried form of plums) are high in unique phytonutrients called neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. These substances are classified as phenols, and their function as antioxidants has been well-documented.
Plums help to produce and absorb iron in the body, which leads to a better blood circulation, helping the growth of healthy tissues. This ability of plums and prune to make iron more available might be related to the high vitamin C content of this fruit. It’s always a good idea to get an additional dose of vitamin C during the colder “flu” season and plums offer a great source of vitamin C.
Studies have also shown that regular consumption of plums will prevent macular degeneration and any other infection of the eye in the long run. Although I was often told by my mum that carrots will keep my eyes bright, these studies prove that plums are the best way to keep my sight.
Researchers have also found that plums have anti-cancer agents that may help prevent the growth of cancerous cells and tumors in the body. Furthermore, eating plums also reduces chances of contracting a heart disease. Plums contain certain cleansing agents, which purifies the blood and also prevents complications of the heart.
We all know that plums and prunes are both effective laxatives, with prunes being the more effective of the two. The laxative action of both prune and prune juice could be explained by their high sorbitol content.
Selecting & Storing
Look for unwrinkled plums. Their skins should be smooth with no blemishes, soft spots or discolorations. The gray-white sheen on plums is perfectly normal, as a matter of fact it is an indication that the plums have not been excessively handled. Good quality plums will display a rich color and will yield to gently pressure. If you choose slightly firmer fruit to ripen at home, do not go for extremely hard plums. These are still immature and the full flavor of the fruit will probably not develop as desired.
You can easily ripen plums at room temperature, but as they mature quickly, make sure you check them daily to ensure they do not become overripe. Once they are ripe you can store plums in a plastic bag and place in your refrigerator. There they should last for 4-5 days.
Plums can also be frozen. Although I have not done this myself, I have read that it is advisable to remove their pits before freezing them.
If the plums have been in the refrigerator allow them to reach room temperature before eating them. This allows them to attain their full sweet juicy flavor.
To remove the pit all you need to do is cut the plum lengthwise, along the pit, gently twist off the sides in opposite directions. Finally, take he pit out. If the fruit is still a little hard and the pit does not come off easily, place the tip of a sharp knife under the pit and gently release it from the flesh.
To remove the skins for baking or poaching, the easiest method is to place them in boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Remove the fruit and run them under cold water to stop them from cooking further, then remove the skin with your fingers.
Enjoy these fruits to the fullest now. Although there are so many great recipes using plums, the best way however is to enjoy them pure.
Here is a sneak peak at a few scrumptious plum creations coming your way right here on WFLH. Stay tuned!
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