August 25, 2004
Plums have intrigued people for thousands of years. There were present in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and in the plum pie of Little Jack Horner.
Plums are an excellent source of vitamin A, an antioxidant, and a good source of vitamin C, fiber and iron — good for the skin, the heart and the digestive system. Don’t go overboard on your plum intake, however. Plums are also known for their very effective laxative properties.
Plums don’t always have to bring to mind the color purple. Juicy sweet or tangy plums can range from palest gold and green to deepest crimson.
Uses for fresh plums range from salads to dessert. The petals of plum blossoms are used by chefs in sorbets and ice creams. Cooked plums are added to stuffings, jams, chutneys, tarts, sauces and soups.
Before there were cultivated plums, there were wild plums, said to be crunchy and sweet. Some of the more popular eating plums grown today include Friars, Empresses, Yakimas and Casselmans. The Santa Rosa plum, developed by Luther Burbank in the city for which it is named, accounts for 30 percent of the annual fresh plum crop.
Fresh plums may be kept for two days at room temperature to ripen. After that you’ll want to keep ripe fruit in the refrigerator for up to three days. After that, you’ll find your plum’s flavor and juiciness may be pooped.
If you feel the need to enhance your fresh plum’s natural flavor, sprinkle some cinnamon, cardamom or nutmeg on freshly cut slices.
If you’re in the mood to cook, plums make an excellent pie or tart. Chopped plums can be added to muffins or quick breads, like carrot cake or zucchini bread. If you’re barbecuing, add some halved plums to the grill for a sweet side dish to accompany your entree, or to serve on top of ice cream or sorbet.
PLUM, BLACK OLIVE AND ARUGULA SALAD
Yield: 6 servings
6 cups arugula, torn into
bite-sized pieces 4 ripe plums, pitted and thinly sliced 1 /4 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons olive oil 4 tablespoons sliced black olives 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Procedure: 1. Combine arugula, plums and onion with the olive oil and toss well. 2. In separate bowl, combine olives with vinegar. Pour mixture over greens, toss well and serve.
Nutrition data per serving: 80 calories (63 percent from fat); 5.6 g fat (0.7 g sat, 4 g mono, 0.5 g poly); 1 g protein; 8 g carbohydrates; 0.78 g fiber; 0 cholesterol; 59 mg sodium; 44 mg calcium.
Source: Nancy Berkoff
- Nancy Berkoff is a registered dietitian and chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food industry.