Today is gray, gloomy, rainy and undoubtedly autumnal. In some ways it's nice. I have work to do and sitting inside feels cozy and warm instead of annoying and dull. And it's always good to know we're getting some rain. But it also feels like summer is gone and so perhaps it's time to do an ode to a summer fruit that's almost at the end of its days.
Plums are grown all over the world and there are hundreds of types. They are a stonefruit, which means they have a pit inside. They are small - about 1-3 inches in diameter, with a smooth skin. They come in a rainbow of colors: they can be yellow, green, red, purple, blue and combos of those colors.
There are two categories of plums: Japanese and European. Japanese plums are bigger and juicier and are usually eaten fresh. Varieties include Coe's golden drop (yellow), Santa Rosa (purple), and satsuma (red).
Most European varieties are purplish-blue and oval and are used to make prunes, dried or made into preserves. European varieties include: D'Agen , damson, and Robe de Sergeant. There is also the sloe plum, used to make sloe gin.
Plums are in season from May to late October. When purchasing your plums, you should choose fruit that is firm but gives slightly to pressure. If possible, avoid the ones with skin blemishes, like cracks, soft spots, or brown spots. Sometimes plums have a frosty or dusty looking coating. This is a natural thing and is nothing bad.
Once you get them home, store at room temperature until slightly soft. Then refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to four days. Alternatively, you can store them before ripening at 32 degrees Fahrenheit for up to ten days, and then let them mature slowly at 55 degrees.
Plums contain vitamin A and potassium.
Making Prunes: You can dry prune plums in the sun or in a dehydrator for 18-24 hours at around 175 F. Drying the plums concentrates the sugars, conferring a rich flavor. Prunes are a source of antioxidants and can act as a flavor stabilizer in ground beef. They also retain moisture well and can be used to replace fat in burgers or baked goods.
And of course ... there is that laxative effect. It is as yet unknown why this happens, but may be due to the sugar alcohol known as sorbitol, which makes up 15% of the weight of both fruit and juice. We can't digest it so it may be that it stimulates our intestines to get rid of it.
|Saturday, September 22, 2007|