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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Plums:

The plum is a "drupe fruit" (stone fruit) of the subgenus "Prunus".  Plums may have been one of the first fruits domesticated by humans.  Plum remains have been found in Neolithic age archaeological sites along with olives, grapes and figs.  Commercially grown plum trees are of medium height (5 - 6 meters) with medium hardiness.  They blossom in different months in different parts of the world, for example in about January in Taiwan and about April in the U.S.  The fruit is usually medium in size (1 - 3 inches in diameter) and  globose to oval in shape.  The flesh is firm, juicy, and mealy.  The peel is smooth with a natural waxy surface.  The fruit has a single large pit. 

Plums are produced around the world, but China is the word's largest producers of plums.  The U.S. is second with California producing 95% of U.S. plums.  The Japanese variety of plum  is the most familiar and widely sold fresh eating plum.   Plums come in a wide variety of colors and sizes.   There are six varieties of plums in cultivation today.   They are 1. Japanese; 2. American; 3. Ornamental; 4. Damson; 5. Wild; and 6. European.   Over 2000 plum varieties exist with over 100 available in the U.S.

The taste of the plum ranges from sweet  to tart.  The skin itself may be particularly tart.   It is juicy and can be eaten fresh out of hand, or used in jam making or other recipes.  Plum juice can be fermented into plum wine.  Dried plums, called prunes, are also sweet . 

Plums and prunes are known for their laxative effect which is attributed to various compounds present in the fruit such as dietary fiber, sorbitol, and isatin.  Plums and prune juice are often used to regulate the digestive system.  Plums provide significant antioxidant protection from phenols.  Plums are a good source of vitamin C,  vitamin  A, vitamin  K, potassium, and dietary fiber. 

Choose plums that yield to gentle pressure and are soft at the tip.   You can also choose plums that are firm (not excessively hard) and ripen them in a paper bag at room temperature.   Once they are ripe, though,  refrigerate them.  Good quality plums have rich color and are free from punctures, bruises, or any kind of decay.  You may see the occasional white spot.  This is not bad and indicates the plum has not been over handled.

So...... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.


Simple but good: 

Plum Crisp  (from Pillsbury)

Fruit Mixture:

  4   cups sliced fresh plums (6 to 8 medium)
1/2  cup sugar
1/4  cup all-purpose flour
1/4  teaspoon cinnamon

Topping:

1/3  cup all-purpose flour
1/3  cup rolled oats
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4  cup margarine or butter, cut into pieces

1.  Heat oven to 375degrees F.  In a large bowl combine plums, sugar, 1/4 cup flour and cinnamon; t
     toss to mix.  Spoon into ungreased 8-inch square pan.

2.  In medium bowl combine 1/3 cup flour, oats and brown sugar; mix well.  Using fork or pastry       
     blender, cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Spoon evenly over plum mix-     ture.

3.  Bake at 375 degrees F. for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown  Serve warm or cool.