Different types of plums


Plum, any of various trees or shrubs in the genus Prunus (family Rosaceae) and their edible fruits. Plums are closely related to peaches and cherries and are widely eaten fresh as a dessert fruit, cooked as compote or jam, or baked in a variety of pastries. The European plum (P. domestica) and the Japanese plum (P. salicina) are grown commercially for their fruits, and a number of species, including the purple-leaf plum (P. cerasifera), are used as ornamental plants for their attractive flowers and leaves.

plumPlums on a tree.Peter

Trees of some plum species reach a height from 6 to 10 metres (20 to 33 feet), while others are much smaller; some species are small shrubs with drooping branches. The flower buds on most varieties are borne on short spurs or along the terminal shoots of the main branches. Each bud may contain from one to five flowers, two or three being most common, and often give an appearance of densely packed, showy flower clusters when the trees are in full bloom. Each flower features a hollow cuplike structure known as the hypanthium, which bears the sepals, petals, and stamens on the outer rim and surrounds a single pistil. After fertilization the hypanthium and its attachments fall off, leaving the ovary to develop into a drupe fruit. As the fruit grows, the outer part ripens into a fleshy juicy exterior, and the inner part forms the stone, or pit, which encloses the seed. The fruits show a wide range of size, flavour, colour, and texture. As trees come into bearing, they do not require much pruning and can be grown satisfactorily in a home fruit garden if diseases and pests are controlled.

Plums are widely cultivated throughout the world, and many varieties are adapted to a range of soils and climatic conditions. The common European plum (P. domestica) probably originated in the region around the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea and is at least 2,000 years old. Another Old World plum species, probably of European or Asiatic origin, is the Damson plum (P. insititia); ancient writings connect early cultivation of those plums with the region around Damascus. The Japanese plum was first domesticated in China thousands of years ago but was extensively developed in Japan; from there it was introduced to the rest of the world. Japanese plums have a longer shelf-life than most European varieties and are thus the most common fresh plum sold commercially.

pruneDried plums (Prunus domestica), commonly known as prunes.© Szabo/.com

Plum varieties that can be dried without resulting in fermentation are called prunes. Such plums have firm flesh and contain high levels of sugar, qualities that favour their being preserved by drying, which is done in dehydrators or in the sun.

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There are few fruits that come in such a panorama of colors as the juicy sweet tasting plum. The plum season extends from May through October with the Japanese varieties first on the market from May and peaking in August followed by the European varieties in the fall.

Plums belong to the Prunus genus of plants and are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond. They are all considered “drupes,” fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds.

Prunes are the dried version of European plums. In the United States, through, you may not see the term “prunes” used as frequently as before, as this fruit items recently had its name officially changed to “dried plum.” Sweet with a deep taste and a sticky chewy texture, prunes are not only fun to eat but they are also highly nutritious. As with other dried fruits, they are available year round.

Plum, fresh
1.00 2-1/8 inches
(66.00 grams) Calories: 30
GI: low
vitamin C8%
vitamin K5%

This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Plums and Prunes provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Plums and Prunes can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Plums and Prunes, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

  • Health Benefits
  • Description
  • History
  • How to Select and Store
  • Tips for Preparing and Cooking
  • How to Enjoy
  • Nutritional Profile

Health Benefits

Significant Antioxidant Protection from the Phenols in Plums and Prunes

The fresh version (plums) and the dried version (prunes) of the plant scientifically known as Prunus domestica have been the subject of repeated health research for their high content of unique phytonutrients called neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. These substances found in plum and prune are classified as phenols, and their function as antioxidants has been well-documented. These damage-preventing substances are particularly effective in neutralizing a particularly dangerous oxygen radical called superoxide anion radical, and they have also been shown to help prevent oxygen-based damage to fats. Since our cell membranes, brain cells and molecules such as cholesterol are largely composed of fats, preventing free radical damage to fats is no small benefit.

Better Iron Absorption Plus More Antioxidant Protection from Vitamin C

The ability of plums and prunes to increase absorption of iron into the body has also been documented in published research. This ability of plums and prunes to make iron more available may be related to the vitamin Ccontent of this fruit. Our food ranking system qualified plums as a very good source of vitamin C.

In addition to assisting with absorption of iron, vitamin C is needed in the body to make healthy tissue and is also needed for a strong immune system. Getting a little extra vitamin C around cold and flu season is a good idea, and may also be helpful for people who suffer from recurrent ear infections. Vitamin C also helps to protect cholesterol from becoming oxidized by free radicals. Since oxidized cholesterol is the kind that builds up in the arteries and causes damage to blood vessels, some extra vitamin C can be helpful for people who suffer from atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. In addition, vitamin C can help neutralize free radicals that could otherwise contribute to the development or progression of conditions like asthma, colon cancer, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, so vitamin C may be able to help those who are at risk or suffering from these conditions. Owing to the multitude of vitamin C’s health benefits, it is not surprising that research has shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in this nutrient is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Prunes’ Potential for Normalizing Blood Sugar Levels and Helping with Weight Loss in Plums and Prunes

Prunes’ soluble fiber helps normalize blood sugar levels by slowing the rate at which food leaves the stomach and by delaying the absorption of glucose (the form in which sugar is transported in the blood) following a meal. Soluble fiber also increases insulin sensitivity and can therefore play a helpful role in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. And, prunes’ soluble fiber promotes a sense of satisfied fullness after a meal by slowing the rate at which food leaves the stomach, so prunes can also help prevent overeating and weight gain.

Prunes’ Fiber for Regularity, Lower Cholesterol, & Intestinal Protection

Prunes are well known for their ability to prevent constipation. In addition to providing bulk and decreasing the transit time of fecal matter, thus decreasing the risk of colon cancer and hemorrhoids, prunes’ insoluble fiber also provides food for the “friendly” bacteria in the large intestine. When these helpful bacteria ferment prunes’ insoluble fiber, they produce a short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid, which serves as the primary fuel for the cells of the large intestine and helps maintain a healthy colon. These helpful bacteria also create two other short-chain fatty acids, propionic and acetic acid, which are used as fuel by the cells of the liver and muscles.

The propionic acid produced from prunes’ insoluble fiber may also be partly responsible for the cholesterol-lowering properties of fiber. In animal studies, propionic acid has been shown to inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme involved in the production of cholesterol by the liver. By lowering the activity of this enzyme, propionic acid helps lower blood cholesterol levels.

In addition, prunes’ soluble fibers help to lower cholesterol by binding to bile acids and removing them from the body via the feces. Bile acids are compounds used to digest fat that are manufactured by the liver from cholesterol. When they are excreted along with prunes’ fiber, the liver must manufacture new bile acids and uses up more cholesterol, thus lowering the amount of cholesterol in circulation. Soluble fiber may also reduce the amount of cholesterol manufactured by the liver.

Lastly, the insoluble fiber provided by prunes feed friendly bacteria in the digestive tract, which helps to maintain larger populations of friendly bacteria. In addition to producing the helpful short-chain fatty acids described above, friendly bacteria play an important protective role by crowding out pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria and preventing them from surviving in the intestinal tract.


One of the unique things about plums is that there are so many varieties available. Not only do over 2,000 varieties of plums exist, but over 100 are available in the United States alone. So, if you are looking for a juicy, sweet tasting fruit that comes in a panorama of colors, plums are for you.

Plums are classified into six general categories—Japanese, American, Damson, Ornamental, Wild and European/Garden—whose size, shape and colors vary. Although usually round, plums can also be oval or heart-shaped. The skins of plums can be red, purple, blue-black, red, green, yellow or amber, while their flesh comes in hues such as yellow, green and pink and orange—a virtual rainbow.

Plums belong to the Prunus genus of plants and are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond. They are all considered “drupes,” fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds. When plums are dried, they become the fruit we know as prunes.

Prunes are nutritious fruits that are extremely fun to eat since they have a sweet, deep taste and a sticky, chewy texture. Prunes are actually dried plums, more specifically the dried version of European plums, including the Agen variety.

Unfortunately for the delicious and quite beneficial prune, its name has acquired a somewhat negative connotation, being associated with wrinkles, old age and sluggish gastrointestinal tracts. As our Health Benefits section shows, nothing could be further from the truth. To give prunes some PR that may help overcome this stigma and to promote prunes to their rightful place in the American diet, they have been informally christened with another name, a name that reflects their heritage . . . the “dried plum.”


With the large number of plums available, it is not surprising that the various types have different heritages and places of origin. The European plum is thought to have been discovered around two thousand years ago, originating in the area near the Caspian Sea. Even in ancient Roman times, there were already over 300 varieties of European plums. European plums made their way across the Atlantic Ocean with the pilgrims, who introduced them into the United States in the 17th century.

While Japanese plums actually originated in China, they derived their name from the country where much of their cultivation and development occurred. Japanese plums were introduced to the U.S. in the late 19th century. Today, the United States, Russia, China and Romania are among the main producers of commercially grown plums.

The process of drying plums to make prunes is thought to have originated thousands of years ago in an area near the Caspian Sea, the same region where the prune-producing European plums originated. They spread throughout Europe with the migration of different cultures and civilizations.

The process of drying plums to produce prunes took hold in California, now the leading producer of prunes worldwide, in the mid-19th century when Louis Pellier planted grafted plum tree cuttings brought back with him from his native France. Among these trees were those belonging to the Agen variety, the type of plum that is extremely well suited to be dried to make prunes.

How to Select and Store

If you want to purchase plums that are ripe and ready to eat, look for ones that yield to gentle pressure and that are slightly soft at their tip. While you can also purchase plums that are firm and ripen them at home, avoid those that are excessively hard as they will be immature and will probably not develop a good taste and texture profile. Good quality plums will feature a rich color and may still have a slight whitish bloom, reflecting that they have not been overhandled. They should also be free of punctures, bruises or any signs of decay. Plums are generally available in the marketplace from May through the early fall.

Plums that are not yet ripe can be left at room temperature. As this fruit tends to mature quickly, check on them in the next day or two to ensure that they do not become overripe. Once they are ripe, plums can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. While plums can be frozen, to ensure maximum taste remove their stone pits before placing them in the freezer.


Prunes are sold either with their pits or already pitted. The form you choose should depend upon your personal preference and recipe needs.

Ideally, you should purchase prunes that are sold in transparent containers so that you can evaluate them for quality. They should be plump, shiny, relatively soft and free of mold. If the packages are opaque, ensure that they are tightly sealed so that the prunes will not have lost any moisture. As with any other dried fruit, try to purchase prunes that are not processed with food preservatives such as sulfites.

Prunes should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for several months. Storing them in the refrigerator will extend their freshness, allowing them to keep for about six months. Regardless of where you store them, make sure that when you open the container, you reseal it tightly to prevent the prunes from losing moisture.

Plums and Prunes

At WHFoods, we encourage the purchase of certified organically grown foods, and plums and prunes are no exception. Repeated research studies on organic foods as a group show that your likelihood of exposure to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals can be greatly reduced through the purchased of certified organic foods, including plums and prunes. In many cases, you may be able to find a local organic grower who sells these fruits but has not applied for formal organic certification either through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or through a state agency. (Examples of states offering state-certified organic foods include California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.) However, if you are shopping in a large supermarket, your most reliable source of organically grown plums and prunes is very likely to be plums and prunes that display the USDA organic logo.

Tips for Preparing and Cooking

Tips for Preparing Plums

Plums are delicious eaten as is. If the plums have been in the refrigerator, allow them to approach room temperature before eating them as this will help them attain the maximum juiciness and sweetness. If you want to first remove the pit before eating or cooking, cut the plum in half lengthwise, gently twist the halves in opposite directions and then carefully take out the pit.

Plums can also be used in a variety of recipes and are usually baked or poached. If you want to remove the skin, this process can be made easier by first blanching the plum in boiling water for 30 seconds. Once you remove the fruits from the water, quickly run them under cold water before peeling to stop the blanching process and allow for easier handling.

Tips for Preparing Prunes

If you have prunes that are extremely dry, soaking them in hot water for a few minutes will help to refresh them. If you are planning on cooking the prunes, soaking them in water or juice beforehand will reduce the cooking time.

How to Enjoy


A Few Quick Serving Ideas

  • Make pizza with a twist by broiling sliced plums, goat cheese, walnuts and sage on top of a whole wheat pita bread or pizza crust.
  • For a delightful dessert, poach plums in a red wine and serve with lemon zest.
  • Bake pitted plum halves in a 200°F(93°C) oven until they are wrinkled. Then mix them into a rye bread recipe for a scrumptiously sweet and hardy bread.
  • Blend stewed plums and combine with yogurt and honey for wonderful cold soup.
  • Add plum slices to cold cereal.

WHFoods Recipes That Feature Plums

  • 5-Minute Fresh Plums in Sweet Sauce

If you’d like even more recipes and ways to prepare plums the Nutrient-Rich Way, you may want to explore The World’s Healthiest Foods book.


  • Serve stewed prunes with rosemary-scented braised lamb and enjoy this Middle Eastern inspired meal.
  • Serve stewed or soaked prunes on top of pancakes and waffles.
  • Combine diced dried prunes with other dried fruits and nuts to make homemade trail mix.
  • Prunes make a delicious addition to poultry stuffing.

If you’d like even more recipes and ways to prepare prunes the Nutrient-Rich Way, you may want to explore The World’s Healthiest Foods book.

WHFoods Recipes That Feature Prunes

  • Hot Polenta Breakfast with Dried Fruit Compote
  • Millet with Dried Fruit Compote
  • Prunes in Orange Sauce
  • 15-Minute Dark Chocolate Truffles

Nutritional Profile

Plums are a very good source of vitamin C. They are also a good source of vitamin K, copper, dietary fiber and potassium.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food’s in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients – not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good – please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.” Read more background information and details of our rating system.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, here is an in-depth nutritional profile for Plums and Prunes. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Of all the fruit trees, it sometimes seems like the most common backyard resident is the plum. Whether you live in Lynden or Lind, if you don’t have a nearby plum tree, chances are you can find one. A neighbor might even give you a big bag of purple fruit.

Although apples, pears, and cherries dominate the commercial tree fruit of Washington, the state produces the second-most plums in the nation. To be fair, California commands that sector, with 97 percent of the plum market.

That doesn’t diminish the plum as a tasty addition to any homegrown suite of fruit. In fact, Washington State University Extension recommends that plums, along with peaches and apricots, might be a good substitute for apples or cherries, because plums “are not regularly attacked by troublesome insect pests, so they may not require multiple pesticide applications during the growing season.”

As Extension educators have noted, “Plum trees are usually vigorous and productive, less prone to disease and nutrition problems than other stone fruit kinds, and can be used not only for fresh eating but also for canning, drying, fruit leathers, and other culinary uses.”

A home gardener can choose from an array of plums to grow, with fruit colors ranging from “classic” purple to bright green, dark yellow, red, gold, and almost black. Although there are a number of cultivars, they are generally classified as European, Asian, and hybrid plums.

The European plum, Prunus domestica, probably originated around the Caucasus region at least two millennia ago. Writings from the ancient Middle East also talk about early cultivation of the Damson plum, Prunus insititia, in the area around Damascus.

On the other side of Asia, the Japanese plum, Prunus salicina, was first domesticated in China thousands of years ago. They were developed further in Japan and spread around the world. Japanese plums are the most common fresh plum available for sale due to a longer shelf life than European plums.

In the United States, plum varieties that dehydrate without fermenting are called prunes. They have high sugar content, and notoriously large amounts of dietary fiber that have a laxative effect. The image of grandpa’s prune juice has led marketers to begin calling their product “dried plums” in recent years.

That fiber is good for you, though, and plums—and prunes—have a number of other health benefits. A medium-sized plum contains over 100 milligrams of potassium, which can help manage high blood pressure and reduce stroke risk. Anthocyanins in the reddish-blue skin of some plum varieties may protect against cancer by picking up free radicals. Plums can also help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, as they rank low on the glycemic index and could help control blood sugar.

Growing plums in the Northwest is fairly easy on both the west and east sides of the state, and European and Japanese plums are consistently successful. Some varieties recommended by WSU Extension for the maritime climate of western Washington are Shiro, Methley, Early Laxton, Mirabelle, and Stanley. The European varieties are generally the easiest to grow.

As with all fruit trees, plum and prune trees need to be, well, pruned. The Washington Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee recommends that you prune very lightly for the first five years. Prune mature trees more heavily, especially if they’ve shown little growth, when all danger from fall or early winter freeze has passed, but before full bloom in spring. Prune the top portion of the tree more heavily than the lower portion.

If you want something a bit different, you can grow Damson and small, round “bush” plums. “They are often quite tart for fresh eating. However, they are very productive, supplying plenty of fruit for jelly, jam, and even wine,” according to Extension.

Plums typically ripen between mid-July and mid-September and flavors range from tart to very sweet. European types have firm-fleshed fruit that is freestone, often used for drying and canning. Japanese and hybrid types have very juicy fruit that is clingstone, and are not well adapted to drying or canning. Some do make excellent jelly.

While you can eat many plums fresh, they’re also great for sauces, compotes, or baked in desserts. Plum sauces match particularly well with pork or poultry.

Dried, salted, or pickled plums make a tasty snack. Many cultures ferment the fruit into plum wine or a kind of cider, such as plum jerkum in England.

Various cultivars of plums from a 1909 Brown Brothers Nurseries
Catalog (from top, left to right): Imperial Gage, Damson, Lombard,
Maynard, and Yellow Egg. (Illustration by Alois Lunzer. Source Wikimedia)

Web extra

Plum recipes



There are two main commercial types of plums: the European plum (Prunus domestica) and the Japanese plum (Prunus salicina), each having many varieties. The European varieties are mainly grown for processing into dried plums (also known as prunes), but are also grown for the fresh market. Japanese varieties are almost always grown strictly for the fresh market (University of California, 2015). Early settlers introduced the European plum to the United States, whereas Japanese plums were first brought to California in 1870 (Sunwest Fruit Company, 2014).

Marketing Channels

The marketing season for California plums is May 15 to Oct. 20t; for California prunes it is Aug. 20t to April 15t. The marketing season for plums and prunes for fresh use and canning from Idaho, Michigan, Oregon and Washington is from Aug. 15 to Oct. 15 (NASS, 2015).

Schools have been focusing on healthier options for their students, and thus they are buying more locally sourced food. Dried plums are a great option for foodservice operators to introduce into their schools. They can be pitted and eaten whole, or used to improve processed foods. Plum puree is a great substitute sweetener for reduced fat baked goods, and works great to improve flavor and retain moisture in pre-cooked meats. Food service operators and farmers can both benefit from this exchange by working through a government program called Farm to School (CDPB, 2015) (USDA, 2015).

Other means of adding value to fresh and dried plums could be selling them through farm stands, farmers’ markets, U-pick operations, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSAs truly allow the community to be involved in the farming experience. Members of the community buy a subscription in advance from the farmer to receive a share of the farm’s crop throughout the growing season. CSAs are unique because the members also share in the risks farmers face, such as poor harvests due to adverse weather or pests. Selling to the community in advance provides the farmer with the working capital needed to run the farm, gets the farmer better prices for their crop, and eliminates time and money otherwise spent on marketing avenues (NAL, 2014).


In 2016 the United States produced 135,000 tons of fresh plums from 18,700 acres. The total value of the crop was $109 million. The United States also produced 54,000 tons of prunes (dried plums) from 45,000 acres. The total value of the crop was $86 million (NASS, 2017).


Chile provides nearly all of the imported plums to the United States, accounting for 80 percent of the total. In the 2016/2017 market year, the United States imported $40 million worth of dried plums and $54 million worth of fresh plums. In 2016 the majority of plum imports entered the United States in February and March (ERS, 2017).


A characteristic of many stone fruits is alternate bearing (AB), meaning the plant will produce more fruit every other year. AB is internally regulated by the plant, but can be triggered by external factors such as poor management. The most successful practice to control AB is crop load management achieved by fruit thinning and pruning (Pennsylvania State University – Extension, 2011). Most fruit trees, including plum, also require chilling hours (close to freezing temperatures) to induce flowering. Generally, European plums require 700-1,000 chilling hours and Japanese plums require 500-900 chilling hours (UC IPM, 2014).


Helpful enterprise budgets for plums:


Alternate Bearing in Fruit Crops, Pennsylvania State University – Extension, 2011.

Community Supported Agriculture, National Agricultural Library, USDA, 2014.

Farm to School and Selling Local Foods to Schools – A Resource for Producers, Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, 2015.

Fruit and Tree Nut Data, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA, 2015.

Management of Plums, – University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), 2014.

Plum Facts – Sunwest Fruit Company, 2014.

Plum and Prune, – University of California, 2015.

School Foodservice, California Dried Plums Board (CDPB), 2015.

Types of Plums, – Michigan Plums Growers Association, 2012.

Links Checked June 2018. .

There are two types of varieties, the European, that contain less water and more soluble solids, suitable to be dried, and the Japanese, more juicy for fresh consumption.
Some European varieties are thought to come from the Prunus domestica, a wild plum tree that grows near the Caspian Sea. Another wild ancestor of the European and South African varieties can be P. saliciana, in China and Japan. In addition, the Americans have used the wild plum P. subcordinata, from America, to cross with European plum or Asian varieties.
According to information of the Departmento de Cultivos Leñosos de la Escuela Universitaria de Ingeniería Técnica Agrícola (EUITA), Valencia, ( http://www.euita.upv.es ), in Spain the plum tree is mainly cultivated in Murcia, Comunidad Valenciana, Andalusia, Aragón, Catalonia and La Rioja. The most exported varieties are Reina Claudia , Santa Rosa and Golden Japan. Other cultivated varieties are Red Beauty , Formosa and Burbank.
We must distinguish between the European plum tree and the Japanese:
1- The European plum (Prunus domestica), usually bears pale green (” Claudias”) or purple (” Prunas”) fruits, to which dry plums belong, since they have a high content of soluble solids and contain little water; this makes dehydration much easier. The most used varieties for their industrial processing belong to the group Ente, like Agen of Ente GF 707. For instance, in Alicante and Castellón, the most cultivated varieties are Stanley, Claudias, Ana Spath, President and Giant.
Normally, this group is well adapted to regions with continental climate due to their flowering, greater demand of cold and less demanding in cares.
2- The Japanese plum (Prunus salicina), with earlier maturation and, in general, reddish and black epidermis, although some can be pale yellow, like ” Golden Japan”. Its water content is high, so it is very juicy. For instance, in the Rivera Alta of the Comunidad Valenciana (Spain), we find the varieties Red Beauty , Methley, Golden Japan , Formosa, Santa Rosa and Burbank. They are cultivated mainly in the warmest areas due to their flowering period, although in some cold areas we can see almond trees grafted with the variety Red Beauty, important for its pink-dark colour and its earliness.
The main plum producing countries are China, the United States, Rumania and Germany.
In the U.S.A., the most cultivated varieties are, in alphabetical order, Beauty (available from the end of May to the beginning of July), Burbank, Gaviota (June to August), Golden Japan (January to May and June to August), June Blood (end of June to the beginning of July), Kelsey and Ontario (July to September).
In Rumania, the variety Switzen or Quetsh, original from Asia and that is also produced in Germany, France and The Netherlands, is available in September and October.
In Germany, the varieties of greater diffusion are Czar (August), Ontario (July to September), Opal (August) and Switzen (September to October).
Some varieties of plums:
” Sungold”
It is a Japanese variety, whose fruit is big and aromatic and the skin is red when it matures. Yellow-orange and juicy flesh. South African variety that appears in the market in February and April.
“Red Beauty”
It is a variety of the Japanese plum, with the rounded fruit, medium thick calibre, considering that it is a very early variety. Red to dark red skin, depending on the maturity degree. Yellow flesh, hard texture and good flavour. It bears handling and transport. Very vigorous tree, open habit, self-sterile. The maturation period takes place from the end of May to the beginning of June. As an exception to the fact that Japanese plum is produced in the warmest areas, in the Ribera Alta (Comunidad Valenciana, Spain), predominate the Japanese early varieties, intended for export, like ” Red Beauty” that is progressively replacing the varieties Methley, Golden Japan and Formosa.
” Golden Japan”
Thick, clear yellow fruit, thick and resistant bright skin, very juicy and pleasant pulp, belonging to the group of Japanese plum. Resistant to transport. Vigorous tree, great fertility. It is cultivated in the U.S.A., France, Italy and South Africa, available from January to May and June to August. In Spain, the harvesting takes place in the middle of June.
” Black Amber”
Japanese variety, black colour, big size, round shape, a bit flattened. The pulp is amber, the firm flesh is not adhered to the bone, good taste. Resistant to handling. Productive. Vigorous tree of very erect habit, self-sterile. It comes from the U.S.A. and the maturation period in warm zones is during the last week of June.
” Santa Rosa’
Japanese plum, with a big, round and hearted fruit. Deep red skin. Amber yellow or pale carmine flesh, very juicy, sweet and perfumed, with a flavour that reminds of the strawberry. Erect habit tree, medium development and very fertile. Partially self-fertile. It is from America, but mainly cultivated in France, Italy, Spain and South Africa. It is available from December to February (South Africa) and from June to November (in other producing countries). In Spain, harvesting takes place in the middle of July.
” Reina Claudia Verde’
European plum of medium size, rounded, green, thin and juicy pulp, characteristic scent and flavour. The stone comes off easily. Partially self-fertile. Excellent for table consumption, stewed or tinned fruit and jam. It is produced in Belgium, France, England and Spain. Available in August and September. In Spanish warm areas the harvesting takes place in July-August.
” Reina Claudia de Oullins”
It is a European plum. French variety. Vigorous and productive tree. Great fruit, golden pale green. Very juicy and pale flesh, not very sweet flavour. The stone does not come off very easily. It is one of the most widespread varieties. Pollinizer variety: Reina Claudia Verde. Maturation during the second fortnight of July (in Zaragoza) and available in the market until August.
” Angelino’
It is a Japanese variety with great size fruits, dark red colour and even darker when ripe. Sweet flavour and yellow flesh. Not very productive but very good fruit conservation. Maturation from the middle to the end of September.

Let’s Get Plum Crazy!

Everything you need to know about cooking with plums! How to pick the perfect plum variety, store it, and what flavors to pair it with.

It’s time for our next ingredient spotlight, and this time we’re looking at plums! Admittedly, I never used to like plums. But for the silliest reason. When my sister and I were younger, we each had our “favorites”, and these favorites could not overlap. If her favorite color was purple, mine had to be something else. If she liked dogs, I liked cats. And guess what? She really liked plum. That’s the silliest thing in the world right?

Well anyways, I bought a variety pack of plums for the photos in this rundown today, and quickly fell in love with greenages (read on for more on those)/have realized the huge mistake I’ve made in dismissing plums all my life. So for the next two weeks, I’m making it up and cooking these little flavor bombs into everything. But first, here are the basics of what you need to know about plums!

How to pick the perfect plum

Plums ripen from summer to early autumn, with different varieties ripening at different times. Pick a plum that’s heavy for it’s size and isn’t too soft. A soft plum is probably overripe.

Varieties of plums

Plums were one of the first fruits we humans domesticated, which means we’ve have thousands of years to breed new varieties of plums. There are way too many to list them all here, but here are some of the main varieties you may come across.

  • Blackamber: A really popular one. These have a dark purple skin and a light yellow inside.
  • Damson: These are also purple-skinned, but are a bit more tart, making them great for jams and baking.
  • Greenage (or Reine Claude): Small and bright greenish-yellow, this variety is ultra-sweet, though a bit hard to come by.
  • Mirabelle: Small and yellow, these are also super sweet.
  • Satsuma: Red skin with bright red insides.
  • Prunes: Prunes (dried plums), are made with freestone varieties of plums (the seed is easily removed, as opposed to clingstone varieties). And their well-known laxative properties? That’s just because they’re loaded with fiber and sorbitol, a sugar alcohol.

How to store plums

If your plums are hard and unripe, store them in a brown paper bag at room temperature for a few days. This helps concentrate the ethylene gas near the plums, causing them to ripen faster.

Once your plums are ripe, store them in the fridge and eat within a 3 to 5 days. They perish quickly so keep an eye on them!

Plum flavor combos

Not sure what to pair plums with in cooking? I always turn to the Vegetarian Flavor Bible for flavor combo ideas. Here are a few ingredients that pair really well with plums!

  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon
  • Honey
  • Oranges
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sesame
  • Other stone fruits (cherries, apricots, almonds, nectarines)

Plum Nutrition Information

per 1 plum (66 g)

  • Calories: 30
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g,
  • Fiber: 1 g, 4% of your Daily Value (DV)
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • 10% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
  • 5% DV of Vitamin A: Provides the provitamin version of this fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes from a plant source and your body converts the plant pigment into active Vitamin A. It is essential in many components of healthy vision, as well as immunity and cell growth/differentiation.

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