In Season: Plums

There are few fruit types that are more diverse and confusing than plums — especially when you take into account all the varieties and cross breeds (with apricots). What's important to remember about plum varieties is many of the newer variations on plums, like Apruims, Pluots, and Plumcots, were originally developed not only for taste but also to extend the harvest season, so whether it is the late spring, the height of summer, or well into the fall, there is a very good chance you will find a truly great plum.

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For September you will see varieties like Flavor Fall and Flavor Heart along with more whimsical names like Flavor Grenade (a green plum evidently with "explosive" flavor). The best way to tell if you'll like a plum is by taste, so if you can, it pays to try plums before you buy.

When selecting plums it is generally a good idea to avoid fruit that is overly soft, as this is often a sign the fruit is overripe or bruised. Wrinkling on the stem side is a sign of aging, dehydrated fruit and should be avoided as well. Plums can be stored on your counter or a little longer in your refrigerator, but you shouldn't keep them too long — plums ripen quickly at room temperature and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can discolor the interior. The flesh of the plum has a distinctive flavor and texture that will vary by variety but the skin will often add an entirely new dimension to the flavor — I always leave the skin on for that sweet/tart combination that is unique to this wonderful fruit.

Plums are very versatile and can be served with a wide range of dishes, from summer salad additions to savory sauces. Plums are great throughout the summer, but Mother Nature saves some of the best varieties for last, so try some fall plums today.    


—     James Parker, Global associate perishables coordinator for Whole Foods Market