Plums: picking, selecting, storing
20 Oct 2013 07.27 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
Plums are a great fruit for the beginner gardener to grow. They’re succulent, tender and packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin A and dietary fibre. Plum trees are known for their resilience, won’t take up much space in your garden and adapt to a variety of growing situations. If you’ve ever had the chance to visit Japan during February or March, you’d know that plum blossom trees, called “ume”, are revered in festivals known as “ume matsuri” for their transfixing seasonal beauty.
When picking plums your first cues will be visual. First look to see if the plum has developed its final colouration – this will change depending on variety. Then try and identify if there is a powdery appearance to the skin. If this is the case you’ll need to use touch to assess its ripeness. A plum that is ready to come off the tree should have a slight give to its flesh when you apply pressure with your fingers. Plums are amongst the easiest fruits to pick and when ripe should come off the tree with only a slight twist.
Colouration is key when selecting plums from the grocery store. They should show a full colour depending on their particular cultivar. Damson plums are blue and purple, Greengage plums have a limey complexion, Mirabelle plums are orange, while Victoria plums have a red blush. The more “powdery” the appearance of the plum, the less it has been handled. A ripe plum should be firm but give a little to the touch near the stem, while spots, blemishes and breaks to the skin should be avoided. Food Scientist Shirley O. Corriher, as reported in the Washington Post, recommends smelling the side of the plum opposite to the stem. It should have a “full, fruity aroma”.
Plums, like other stone fruit, will spoil quickly. Keep plums on your kitchen counter for up to 3 days or until ripe. Once ripened plums will stay good in your refrigerator for about a week. Frozen plums remain edible for up to 12 months. For some interesting takes on plum storage think of making plum compote or turning your extra plums into a jam or jelly.
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