Plums are one of our summer favourites – so easy to eat, this gorgeous tart fruit comes in an incredible variety of sizes, colours and flavours.
The main growing areas for these seasonal favourites are Central Otago, Canterbury, Nelson and Marlborough in the South Island and Hawke’s Bay in the North. Ranging in colour from bright red to purple, blue-black, yellow and even green, plums’ diversity is quite fantastic. They also range in taste from super sweet to tart, so from eating straight away (keeping the juice from dripping down your fingers to your clothes) to cooking them for a perfect summertime preserve, plums really are the versatile summer treat.
The Omega plum is a common, dark-skinned, crimson-fleshed varietal that is beautifully sweet when ripe; it appears later in the season and is an ideal eating plum. And we all love a good classic Black Doris plum for its super juicy flesh! This is one of the most commonly grown in back yards of the classic Kiwi quarter-acre section; if you are lucky enough to still have an ancient plum tree in your back yard, make sure you give it some love and feed it! A freestone fruit, Black Doris is perfect for anything from eating to baking, making jams and preserving.
Other varieties that you’ll see about this year are Fortune – a yellow-fleshed plum with low acid; Black Amber, which has dark skin but a yellow flesh; and the red-fleshed Billington, which is slightly tart and, again, often found in your back yard.
When buying your plums, look for those that yield to gentle pressure and are slightly soft at the tip. If buying to eat over a week, store them at room temperature but keep an eye on them as hot, closed-up houses will ripen fruit very fast. Plums, like all stone fruit, hate cold so don’t store them in super-cold fridges as they will lose all taste. Wash your fruit before eating and get creative! As their price drops make the most of the abundance!