All plums share three common characteristics: thin skin, a single central pit and a succulent flesh when ripe. Colors vary depending on variety. Fruits can be deep purple, rose-hued, ruby red, green and gold. The shape of plums is generally rounded with a central groove running longitudinal to the fruit's stem end. Flavors vary from sweet-tart to spicy and sub acid. Flesh consistency can vary from tender firm to having a melting quality. All plums continue to ripen once harvested.
Plums are available during the summer.
Plums are a stone fruit and members of the Rosaceae family and classified under the genus, Prunus, along with peaches, cherries, almonds and apricots. There are three species of plums, Japanese (P. salicina) European (P. domestica) and American (P. americana). Fruits vary in shape, size, flavor, and color according to cultivar. Subspecies include Damsons, Bullace and Greeengage. All plums share the same percentage of naturally occurring sugars, which is 10%. However fruit breeding since the 19th century has increased plum cultivars' sugar content to reach above 20%. The benchmark plum variety is the Santa Rosa plum, a Japanese plum developed in America by Luther Burbank in 1906. Plums' greatest offspring is perhaps the pluot, a plum-apricot hybrid created to meet the demands of evolving palates.
Plums are a good source of potassium, calcium, phosphate, vitamin C and B complex vitamins which have a great importance to the process of metabolism and nervous system health.
Plums are a versatile culinary ingredient with possible uses centuries old. They can be used for fresh eating, preserved using various methods, including pickling and of course, they can be dried to prune form. Plums can be used as a salad ingredient, as a compote for savory applications, used as the principle ingredient in desserts such as cakes, crumbles and ice creams and they can even be the base for a summer vinaigrette. Plums have a wide array of culinary pairings that are both savory and sweet. Such pairings include anise, arugula, basil, cherries, chiles, cinnamon, cream, dates, figs, chocolate, nectarines, peaches, citrus, pork, lamb, aged and fresh cheeses, lettuce greens, almonds, pistachios, grilled scallops, brandy, red wine and light-bodied vinegars.