Plums provide vitamin C, vitamin A (as beta-carotene), and riboflavin (vitamin B2), not to mention a little calcium, magnesium and iron. Two medium plums - a food guide serving - provide 12.5 milligrams of vitamin C, almost 20 percent of a day's worth of the nutrient. Vitamin C helps with wound healing, fighting infection, and absorbing iron from foods. As an antioxidant, vitamin C in foods may also play a role in preventing heart disease, cataract and certain cancers. Fresh plums have more vitamin C than dried plums (prunes) or prune juice.
Plums also contain fiber (1 gram of fibre per plum) and potassium, a mineral that helps prevent high blood pressure. Prunes (dried plums) also contain a natural laxative called dihydroxtphenyl isatin.
Like many dark-skinned fruits, plums are rich in phytochemicals called phenols. Phenols protect our cells against oxidative damage and thereby help reduce the risk of chronic disease. Oxidative damage occurs when the production of harmful molecules, called free radicals, overwhelms the body's built-in antioxidant defenses.
One serving of Vegetables and Fruits is the equivalent of 2 plums.
Notable nutrients in plums:
2 medium plums contain:
|Vitamin C (mg)||12|
|Folic Acid (mcg)||6|
Scientifically known as Prunus domestica, over 2,000 varieties of plums are grown world wide. Plums are classified into six general categories - Japanese, American, Damson, Ornamental, Wild and European/Garden. Japanese and European species are the most common types of plums eaten.
European plums are smaller, oval-shaped fruits with dark purple skin and golden flesh. Their denser flesh makes them suitable for cooking. Hence, they're often used for stewing, canning or drying into prunes.
Japanese plums are heart-shaped and come in a wide range of colors from blackish-red to yellow. Commonly sold as red or black plums, these plums have a rich, sweeter flesh that can be eaten raw.
The American plum has a round shaper and amber-colored skin and flesh. It's resistant to cold and grows well on the east and west coasts of the United States. Damson, ornamental and wild plums are rather acidic and have a tart flavour. These less common varieties are used to make jams and preserves.
Fresh plums are available from May to late October. For ready-to-eat plums, choose ones that yield slightly to palm pressure and are soft at their tip. You can also buy plums that are a little hard as they will ripen at home.
But avoid buying plums that are too hard as they are probably immature and will not taste as good. Also avoid plums with cracks, spots or brown discoloration on the skin. The pale, silvery-gray film on the skin is natural and does not affect the quality of the plum.
Unripe plums can be stored at room temperature until they mature. Ripe plums can be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to 4 days. Ripe plums can also be frozen, but remove their stone pits to best preserve their taste. To keep plums even longer, you can dry plums naturally in a dehydrator or the oven on very low heat (130 degrees F or 55 degrees C) for 10 to 14 hours. Plums can be dried in halves, sections or slices.
When in season, plums are best eaten fresh. For maximum juiciness and sweetness, enjoy them at room temperature. But be sure to wash under running water first to remove any dirt and pesticide residues.
If you're baking or cooking plums, you'll need to first remove the pit. To do so, cut the plum in half lengthwise and gently twist until the halves separate. Then carefully remove the pit.
Some recipes may require you to remove the skin. To remove, blanch the plum in boiling water for 30 seconds, and then quickly immerse in cold water to stop the blanching process. The skin will easily peel off and the plum can then be baked or poached.
Prunes are eaten raw, soaked or stewed alone or with other fruits, and used in jams. While plums are delicious eaten fresh, they're also wonderful when cooked in desserts and they pair well with savoury dishes too. Here are some of our favorite suggestions for incorporating plums into your diet this summer:
Healthy Ways to Enjoy
- Add diced plums to a bowl of whole grain cereal or yogurt in the morning.
- Add chopped prunes to muffin, pancake or waffle batters.
- Breakfast on the fly? Grab two plums with a low fat granola bar to eat at the office.
At lunch and dinner:
- Slice a ripe plum into your salad greens for a sweet addition.
- Make a pizza with a unique twist by broiling sliced plums, goat cheese, walnuts and fresh sage laves on top a whole wheat pita.
- Make a sweet and sour sauce for pork or poultry by sautéing plums with a little water, garlic, honey, and ginger. Pulse with a hand blender and serve.
At snacks and dessert:
- Add dried plum sections to homemade trail mix including dried apricots, apple slices, walnuts and almonds.
- For a simple snack, enjoy fresh or dried plums out of hand.
- Make a quick plum tart by arranging sliced plums on a mini pie crust. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 350 F for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden and the plums are soft.
- Add chopped fresh plums to your favourite fruit cobbler recipe.
- Chop sweet plums into vanilla ice cream for a twist to a classic dessert.
- Add diced plums to pie and cake recipes for added color and flavor.
Did You Know?
- Plum pudding is traditionally known as Christmas pudding because it was made as a festive treat in 14th century England.
- The plum tree has white blossoms in the Spring, which change into oval leaves.
- Plums are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond!