Their sweet, floral flavor explodes in your mouth at first bite. The juices trickle down your fingers. You don’t care. Summer’s seductive stone fruits are worth it. These days, plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries, and apricots are mating so much that it’s hard to tell what’s what. There are also pluots, plumcots, and apriums in the mix, and that’s just the start. While we’re an equal opportunity taster, we can help you distinguish these hybrid candies of nature from each other — particularly plums and pluots.
Plums are just plums, plain and simple. They’re 1 to 3 inches in diameter and round, sometimes oblong, with skin that’s smooth, waxy, and deep purple. The pale flesh is firm and juicy. They have 16 grams of sugar and 26 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C, 13 percent vitamin K, and 11 percent vitamin A. Prunes are dried plums.
Pluots look like a mottled plum with redder and more amber tones and a pinker flesh, according to Specialty Produce, a family owned and operated food service and retail fresh produce supplier in San Diego, California. The colors can be a range, though, because there are so many varieties, from the popular Flavorosa to the Dapple Dandy. It’s hard to define. One characteristic remains true across the board: The pluot’s flesh is designed to taste even sweeter than plums.
Plant breeder Luther Burban was the first person to successfully cross plums with apricots in the late 19th century, releasing a few half-plum, half-apricot hybrids, according to Chip Brantley, author of The Perfect Fruit, a book about pluots. He called these hybrids plumcots.
Then Floyd Zaiger and his breeding company used Burbank’s work for his own experimentation with plum-apricot hybrids. Zaiger trademarked the name pluot (plew-ott), which is mostly comprised of plum. Some people say pluots are 75 percent plum, 25 percent apricot, but there are so many varieties, that’s often not true. Apriums are another hybrid in which the majority is apricot rather than plum. And for those concerned about GMOs, Zaiger develops his hybrid fruits by hand pollination rather than genetic modification.
Pluots and plums, like other stone fruit, are in season between spring and into fall. Enjoy them whole and unadulterated. But they’re also sumptuous baked, roasted, sautéed, pureed, and cooked for jams, compotes, ice creams, and reductions, according to Specialty Produce’s recommendations. Complementary flavors are vanilla, nutmeg, tropical fruits, chocolate, citrus, basil and chiles. They pair well with pork, lamb, grilled shellfish, and crudo-style seafood. To store, let your plums or pluots ripen at room temperature and store in refrigerator for up to one week.
Check out a few of our favorite plum and pluot recipes. If you want more, see our gallery of summer fruit desserts.
1. Plum Buckle with Pecan Topping
Made with blueberries traditionally, let’s toss tradition out the window and use plums or pluots instead for our buckle. This cake-like treat is an American classic, but the U.S. is so young, it can get away with changing things up. Get our Plum Buckle with Pecan Topping recipe.
2. Plum Blossom Cocktail
This floral, fruity cocktail is the light, fizzy drink you want when the weather warms and you have a guests over for some outdoor dining and conversation. Get our Plum Blossom Cocktail recipe.
3. Broiled Pluots with Zabaglione
This is a simple, yet sumptuous, Italian dessert that highlights the summer fruit’s sweet, juicy nectar we know and love. The zabaglione involves egg yolks, sugar, and a lot of whisking to make a fluffy confection. Get our Broiled Pluots with Zabaglione recipe.
4. Grilled Pork Chops with Plum Sauce
Pork goes so well with fruit, and plums are no exception. The savory-sweet coupling is complete with this match. Get our Grilled Pork Chops with Plum Sauce recipe.
5. Pluot-Amaretti Trifle
This is a showstopper for your next brunch or dinner party — at least, until you scoop out a serving and it’s a mash of deliciousness. Get our Pluot-Amaretti Trifle recipe.
— Head photo: The Produce Blog by Rick Chong.