In our book, all plums are delicious, but not every variety is properly suited for cooking. Plums typically fall into two categories; soft, sweet/tart Japanese plums and heartier, European plums. The latter tends to be friendlier towards the cooking process and their flavor can actually improve during the cooking process! In terms of specific varieties, we’d recommend working with the supremely sweet Mirabelle plum or the versatile Damson plum.
- Pro Tip: Check out some more awesome varieties here!
As with any other fruit, it’s always important to cook with the ripest specimens. Plums are grown in every color of the rainbow, so you’ll need to base your selection off of different factors like feel, weight, and smell instead of color. To determine ripeness, look for plums that feel heavy for their size, give slightly to pressure, and have a clearly identifiable “fruity” smell. Additionally, always select plums that are free of bruises or blemishes.
If you don’t plan on immediately using your plums, it’s important to store them properly to ensure that they stay in optimal condition. Plums continue to ripen once they’ve been picked, so you’ll need to determine if they’re ripe before storing. Refrigerating your plums will slow down this process, so only place them in the fridge when they’re ready. In all other scenarios, store them at room temperature until they’re ready to serve. Finally, avoid stacking your plums on top of each other to minimize bruising.
While your instinct may be to immediately slice and pit your plums, not all cooking methods require this step! For example, if you plan on poaching your fruit, it’s better to keep them whole and intact. However, for most day to day uses, it’s best to wash and pit before cooking.
Once you’re ready to bust out the pots and pans, there are a plethora of cooking methods at your disposal. Grilling, baking, stewing, and braising are excellent options, but they will impart different flavors and textures into your finished product. For a strong start, we’d recommend trying out honey-glazed grilled plums, cinnamon plum pie, or a brisket with braised plums!