The Best Plum Varieties to Start the Season

Though plums are more or less available year round, they really start to hit their stride when the summer months begin to roll in. One of the most complex fruits on earth gets even more complicated as their peak season offers more varieties and an overall richer fruit. This isn’t to say that the world of plums is an impenetrable fortress though; you just need to prepare a proper “plan of attack” for your dish of choice. Get ready for the battle and find out which plum is right for you.

Santa Rosa

Though you may think of plums as an American or European fruit, Japanese plums are actually the most popular type in the United States, with Santa Rosas being the most prominent variety of them all. Be on the lookout for light red skin and red-hued flesh and expect a tart/sweet balance when you bite into it. 

  • Flavor: Tart & sweet
  • Best For: Fruit tarts

El Dorado

Another popular Japanese variety, El Dorados are known for their deep purple, almost black skin. They’re a little more mild than Santa Rosas, but still hold up well when cooked or baked. If you’re looking for a classic plum flavor, these are a great bet.

  • Flavor: Mild & sweet
  • Best For: Fresh eating or baking

Greengage

Widely considered to be one of the best varieties of European plums, Greengages are instantly recognizable for their light green skin and fruit. Be careful when working with this variety though, as they tend to be a bit more delicate than other varieties. Flavor wise, Greengages tend to have a rich, honeyed sweetness that makes them a versatile option. Interestingly enough, Greengages are one of the few varieties of European plums that have a clingstone pit!

  • Flavor: Honey-sweet
  • Best For: All around usage

Damson

One of the heaviest hitters in the world of European plums, Damsons tend to be a bit more tart than other types of plums. Luckily for fruit fans, this means that Damsons don’t lose their flavor during the cooking process!

  • Flavor: Tart
  • Best For: Stewed fruit dishes and plum pie

Mirabelle

The sweetest plum of them all, Mirabelles are surprisingly potent for their small size. They’re aesthetically pleasing too, with a yellowish-green skin that’s generously dotted with red speckles. If you’re fond of plum based desserts, they’re a great way to keep your dish sugary and sweet.

  • Flavor: Supremely sweet
  • Best For: Baking and plum pudding

Myrobalan

Alternatively known as “cherry plums,” Myrobalans are roughly the size of a cherry tomato. Their diminutive size makes them ill-suited towards dishes that require a lot of fruit, but they can be wonderful additions to grab-n-go lunches or summer salads! Try pairing with classic greens like spinach or arugula for a summertime treat!

  • Flavor: Sweet and juicy
  • Best For: Fresh eating or adding to a salad