Hi, thanks for dropping by. Now, you probably know us from that nursery rhyme Little Jack Horner, and from the fact that Plum Pudding is a traditional Christmas dessert, but there’s so much more to us that we hardly know where to begin. For a start, we’re stone fruits, like peaches, nectarines, cherries and loquats, and we come in two major types – European plums and Japanese plums.
We European plums are oval or oblong, about 5-6cm long, with a range of pink to purple skin colours. Our flesh is also multi-coloured from yellow, creamy-white to blood red and encloses a single large oval seed, which may be a freestone or clingstone depending on whether our flesh clings to it or not. Our cousins the Japanese plums are slightly different to us, being more rounded to heart-shaped, 5-8cm long, with a depression at one end and a slight point at the other. Their skin colour can range from yellow to red and their flesh can be yellow, amber or yellow with red.
We’re available from October to May with our peak being from February to March.
There are more than 200 varieties of plums in Australia. Some of us ripen in early summer and others in late autumn. Red-fleshed varieties have more nutrients than plums with yellow flesh, and they also have a higher sugar content and, therefore, a sweeter flavour. Some of the more common varieties are:
We’re a small to medium, clingstone plum with a brilliant red to purple skin. We have a yellow-orange flesh which is soft and sweet.
We’re a medium clingstone plum with a deep reddish-crimson skin and yellow, juicy, tart flesh.
We’re a small, oval freestone plum with a dark purple skin and yellow, firm, juicy, very sweet flesh.
We’re a medium to large, round plum with a light red-yellow, mottled skin and pale creamy-white flesh.
We’re a blood plum which is heart-shaped, medium to large, and maroon-skinned. Our soft red flesh has a very sweet flavour and tart skin.
We’re a large oval-shaped deep purple freestone plum, with a heavy blue bloom. We have firm, juicy, yellow flesh and a sweet flavour and slightly tart skin.
Our parent plants are graceful, deciduous trees with thick, coarsely-toothed leaves which have a downy underside. Their white flowers are carried singly or in pairs. We develop from the fertilised flower.
Depending on our variety we prefer to grow in deep rich soil and in a temperate to warm climate. You cannot grow a good fruiting plum tree from a seed (or stone). Selected plum varieties are grafted onto a rootstock chosen for it’s versatility and resilience to disease.
Our parent trees are best planted in the winter when they are dormant (sleeping). This allows their roots to use all the nutrients in the soil to grow strong before the tree starts to grow leaves and shoots in the spring.
The trees will start producing good eating fruit about three to four years after planting. We’re picked by hand, as we mature, to protect our easily damaged skin. It’s a very time consuming harvest as we don’t all ripen at the same time.
Select those of us which are smooth, plump, and fairly firm with colour that is consistent with our specific va
If unripe, ripen us at room temperature. When ripe store us in the fridge and use within 5 days.
The origin of the European plum is obscure and when we were first cultivated is not known, although our wild ancestors were harvested back in ancient times.
The Japanese plum actually originated in China and was first introduced to Japan in the 16th century. It was later cultivated in the USA in 1870 and had reached South Africa and Australia in the early 1900s.
We have tart skins and juicy fruit and are delicious eaten raw with our stone removed, or we can be poached, boiled, baked, grilled, pan-fried or microwaved. Serve us with ice cream, over breakfast cereal, in fruit salad, with meat, sauces, pies, sherbets, cakes or breads.
Here are a few plum recipes that might be fun to try:
Line a flan tin with ready-to-use shortcrust pastry, 5mm thick. Prick the base with a fork and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons castor sugar. Place 500g plums, halved and stoned, cut-side-up over base. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons castor sugar and cook at 200ÌC for 30 minutes. Remove and cool for 10 minutes. Brush top with apricot jam and sprinkle with roasted flaked almonds.
Plum Fish Fillets
Marinate white fish fillets in teriyaki sauce for 15 minutes. Pan-fry until just cooked. Remove and keep warm. Slice plums thickly and saute in butter, 2-3 minutes. Stir in some redcurrant jelly and heat 1-2 minutes. Serve on fish with tossed salad.
Put 750g plums, 50g sugar, 4 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon each cinnamon and vanilla in saucepan. Simmer until tender, 10 minutes. Remove the stones and puree the mixture. Cool. Whisk one large egg white until stiff and stir in 1 cup yoghurt. Alternate spoonfuls of each mixture in glasses and gently swirl to give a marbled effect. Sprinkle with grated chocolate.