© Denzil Green
Plums are the second most popular fruit in the world (apples are the most popular.)
You can classify Plums in many ways. One is based on what you do with them -- either eating them raw or cooking with them. Another divides them into 3 families: European, Damson, Japanese. Yet another is to look at those that are freestone -- the flesh separates easily from the pit -- from those that aren't (clingstone.)
Damson Plums are small, oval, full-flavoured, but a bit tart for eating raw, so they are used for cooking, and preserving.
Not all Plums are Plum-coloured -- that is to say, purple. They also come in green, yellowish green, yellow and red. Consequently, it can be hard to tell if a Plum is ripe based on colour, unless you are familiar with the variety. The best way to tell if it is ripe is just to squeeze it slightly to see if it is soft. Meanwhile, avoid all the bruised fruit that everyone else has squeezed. Plums will, like many fruits, continue to ripen after picking.
Sloe Plums, which never grow to much more than 1/2 (1 cm) inch big, are used to make Sloe Gin.
Yellow plum, Prunus salicina 'Shiro'
© Michelle Mattern
The pit of the plum has cyanogens in it, which are bound molecules of sugar and cyanide. When this bond is broken, the cyanide becomes free and able to act. The cyanogens don't leak at all into the flesh of the fruit, for some reason, but they make it not a good idea to ferment plum pits or break them up and roast them as snack food.
3 plums (from a can of drained Plums) = 2 1/2 oz = 70g
1 fresh plum = 2 1/2 oz = 70g
All Plums freeze and preserve well.
Red Plums (Code 4042)
- © Denzil Green
The Damson Plum is believed to be the oldest variety of Plum. It was grown in ancient Mesopotamia. Some say it may have been grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, though if everything reputed to have grown in that garden had been hanging there they must have called Playtex in for support.
Pompey the Great began cultivating Plums in his gardens in Rome in 65 BC.
Crusaders also brought the Plum back to Europe with them from Syria.
Literature & Lore
Damson comes from the Latin word, "damascum", meaning "Plum of Damascus".
PlumsAgen Prunes; Angelina Burdett Plums; Greengage Plums; Mirabelles; Pershore Yellow Egg Plum; Plum Shuttles; Plums; Prune Plums; Prunes; Quetsch Plums; Sloe Plums; Ume
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