Plum season leaves us with sweet and sticky purple juice running over fingers as we delight in the summer months. Packed with Vitamin C, fibre and potassium, as with many summer fruits, there’s no reason to not get stuck in. Plums are versatile in that they go well with both sweet and savoury dishes. Plum sauce is a popular condiment, particularly with Chinese dishes, and plums also go well with red wine and meats. Of course as a sweet fruit it also sits well eaten alone, or in many dessert dishes.
How to buy
If you’re buying to eat immediately pick the slightly softer fruits that yield to a gentle squeeze, but don’t show any signs of decay like bruising, being overly soft, leaking juice, or having wrinkly skin.
If you’re buying to store, pick fruit that is still fairly firm, but not completely solid as these don’t tend to ripen so well.
How to store
If you’re ripening your fruit at home you can leave them in a fruit bowl at room temperature. Don’t put unripe plums in the fridge as they won’t ripen properly at a cool temperature, failing to develop flavour or soften correctly. Do not leave in direct sunlight as this encourages them to ripen too fast, and potentially rot. Keep an eye out for fruit flies, you can cover them with kitchen towel, and check on them daily as they can mature suddenly.
Once ripe you can move them into the fridge where they are best eaten within five days.
To freeze plums it is best to take their stone out. Slice them in half, twist alternate ways gently, remove the stone, and place in the freezer.
How to cook
Plums are surprisingly versatile fruits. They are delicious stewed, or reduced into compote to pop on cereal and desserts, or into chutney to be paired with savoury dishes. As with many summer fruits they are great on their own, in fruit salad, and fresh atop ice cream, granola, and as other dessert toppings.
Alternatively you can pop them in all these things but poached, rather than fresh. Accompany savoury dishes such as lamb and duck with plums soaked in red wine or port. Finally, they go very well with cheese, particularly goat’s cheese and varieties of blue, just slice up and serve on a platter.
Jammy, juicy and delicious beyond belief, here are our favourite ways to use plums in the kitchen:
Illustration by Carla McRae