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Food of the Month


Plums

Antioxidant Powerhouse

Plums contain vitamin C and phytonutrients such as lutein, cryptoxanthin, and chlorogenic acid. These components possess effective antioxidant qualities, which help in preventing the damage caused by oxygen radicals.

Because prunes are a concentrated source of the nutrients and phytonutrients found in plums, their antioxidant potential is six times that of the fresh fruit. Prunes are also significantly higher in antioxidants than any other dried or fresh fruit or vegetable.

Digestive Benefits

Dried plums are an excellent source of fiber, providing 12.4 grams per cup of pitted prunes. Over half of this fiber is the soluble type, which binds to cholesterol and other fatty acids to promote their excretion through waste. Soluble fiber also helps normalize blood glucose levels by slowing the absorption of sugars.

Plums and prunes also contain significant levels of insoluble fiber, the type that increases the size and softness of stools and speeds material through the intestinal tract. Because of their high fiber content, prunes are a common home remedy for the prevention and treatment of constipation. Plums and prunes are also a good source of the components sorbitol and isatin, which help in regulating the digestive system. Prunes are more effective in treating digestive disorders such as constipation as compared to other remedies such as psyllium husk.

Bone Health
Consumption of dried plums aids in maintaining healthy bones. Flavonoids such as caffeic acid and rutin that are both present in plums help inhibit the deterioration of bone tissue and prevent diseases such as osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

Polyphenols, along with the potassium content present in prunes, encourage the formation of bone, enhance bone density, and prevent bone loss caused by ovarian hormone deficiency. It has been demonstrated that regular consumption of dried plums helps in the restoration of bone density that has already been lost due to aging.

Immune Support
Plums are beneficial in strengthening the immune defense of the body due to the presence of high vitamin C content, which promotes the body’s resistance against various infections and inflammation.

Cardiovascular Health
The consumption of plums helps to maintain cardiovascular health. The regular intake of dried plums has been found to help promote fluidity of blood in the arteries. This protective effect aids in the prevention of various cardiac disorders, including the development of atherosclerosis, and reducing the chance of heart attack and stroke. Also, the fiber in plums helps to lower cholesterol levels.

Eye Health
Plums contain vitamin A and beta-carotene, which are beneficial in maintaining healthy eyesight and preventing age-related macular degeneration. The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin present in plums reside in the macular tissues of the retina and provide protection against the damage caused by UV radiation.

Cellular Health
Plums contain iron and copper, which assist in the formation of red blood cells and facilitate blood purification and healthy circulation. The copper in plums acts as an antioxidant, is essential for nerve health, and aids in the formation of collagen. Consumption of copper-rich plums also helps with the absorption of iron and prevents various diseases such as anemia and osteoarthritis.

Note: Individuals with existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating plums and prunes due to their measurable amounts of oxalates. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems.

Tips for Selecting and Storing Plums

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Selecting:

  • Plums are available year round, but they are at their best from May until September.
  • In the store, look for fresh fruits featuring rich color and that still have a slight whitish “bloom,” indicating that they have not been over handled.
  • Avoid those with excessively soft spots or with cuts or bruises. Ripe fruits yield to gentle pressure and have a sweet aroma.

Storage:

  • Slightly hard mature plums can be kept at room temperature until they ripen. As this fruit tends to mature quickly, check on them in the next day or two to ensure they do not become overripe.
  • Ripe ones can be placed in the refrigerator but should be brought to room temperature before being eaten in order to enjoy their rich flavor.
  • While plums can be frozen, to ensure maximum taste remove their stone pits before placing them in the freezer.
  • Prunes should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place where they will keep for several months.
  • Storing them in the refrigerator will extend their freshness, allowing them to keep for about six months.
  • Regardless of where you store them, make sure that when you open the container, you reseal it tightly to prevent the prunes losing moisture.

Serving Suggestions

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  • Try marinating plums in balsamic vinegar and honey and putting them on kebabs to grill with other veggies and meats.
  • Make dried plum bon bons by dipping pitted dried plums in dark chocolate; drain and place on wax paper to set.
  • Make pizza with a twist by broiling sliced plums, goat cheese, walnuts, and sage on top of a whole-wheat pita bread or pizza crust.
  • Plum sections are a great addition to salads.
  • Combine diced dried prunes with other dried fruits and nuts to make homemade trail mix.
  • Prunes make a delicious addition to poultry stuffing.

Recipes:

Plum & Avocado Salad

Plum & Avocado Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 medium ripe avocados
5 medium-sized ripe black plums
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 small clove of garlic
Several pinches sea salt
1 medium lemon
1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
1 dried red chili pepper

  1. Peel the black plums and cut into cubes.
  2. Peel the avocado and cut into cubes.
  3. Gently place the black plum and avocado chunks into a dish. Squeeze with lemon and sprinkle in a couple pinches of sea salt. Do not mix.
  4. With the back of a large spoon, mash up the garlic clove with a little salt.
  5. Add the red chili pepper and continue crushing.
  6. Add the cilantro and continue to mash until the ingredients are combined.
  7. Drizzle in the olive oil (1/4 to 1/2 cup) to make the dressing, mashing well.
  8. Drizzle the dressing with a spoon over the plums and avocado. Salt to taste.
  9. Let the salad sit for 5 to 10 minutes to soak in a bit and then enjoy.

Shrimp & Plum Kebabs

Shrimp & Plum Kebabs

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons canola oil or toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 raw shrimp (8-12 per pound), peeled and deveined
3 jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered lengthwise
2 plums, pitted and cut into sixths

  1. Whisk oil, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the mixture in a small bowl to use as dressing. Add shrimp, jalapeños and plums to the remaining marinade; toss to coat.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  3. Make 4 kebabs, alternating shrimp, jalapeños, and plums evenly among four 10-inch skewers.
  4. Discard the marinade.
  5. Grill the kebabs, turning once, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 8 minutes total. Drizzle with the reserved dressing.

Plum Kuchen

Plum Kuchen

Serves 10

Ingredients:

6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1-1/2 cups)
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
7 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
Cooking spray
1-1/2 pounds plums, quartered and pitted
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
  3. Combine flour, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cardamom in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
  4. Cut in 4 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  5. Combine milk, vanilla, and egg in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  6. Spoon batter into a 9-inch round metal cake pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange plums in a circular pattern over batter.
  7. Combine remaining 2/3 cup granulated sugar, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, lemon rind, and allspice in a small bowl, stirring well.
  8. Place remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 30 seconds or until butter melts. Stir into sugar mixture.
  9. Sprinkle plums evenly with sugar mixture.
  10. Bake at 425° for 35 minutes or until browned and bubbling.
  11. Cool in pan 1 hour on a wire rack. Cut into wedges.

Yellow Plum Salad

Yellow Plum Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 yellow bell peppers
4 golden beets (about 12 ounces)
2-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 yellow-fleshed plums, halved and pitted (about 1 pound)
1/2 pint yellow pear tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes.
  3. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand.
  4. Broil for 13 minutes or until blackened.
  5. Place in a paper bag and fold tightly to seal. Let stand for 20 minutes.
  6. Peel and cut bell peppers into 1/2-inch-thick strips.
  7. Preheat oven to 450°.
  8. Leave root and 1-inch stem on beets; scrub with a brush.
  9. Place beets in an 11 x 7-inch ceramic or glass baking dish. Add 1 inch of water to dish; cover tightly with foil.
  10. Bake at 450° for 1 hour or until tender.
  11. Cool; peel and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  12. Combine olive oil and the next 6 ingredients (through black pepper) in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
  13. Place sliced beets in a medium bowl. Drizzle beets with 3 tablespoons vinaigrette; toss gently.
  14. Let stand at least 15 minutes.
  15. Divide beets evenly among 6 salad plates and top each serving evenly with peppers, plums, and tomatoes. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Basil Plum Granita

Basil Plum Granita

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 whole allspice
1-1/2 pounds black plums, quartered and pitted
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3/4 cup basil leaves

  1. Place first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat; simmer for 15 minutes or until plums begin to fall apart, stirring occasionally.
  3. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl; cool completely, stirring occasionally. Discard allspice.
  4. Place the plum mixture, lime juice, and basil in a blender; process until well blended.
  5. Press the plum mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl and discard solids.
  6. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish.
  7. Cover and freeze until partially frozen (about 2 hours).
  8. Scrape with a fork, crushing any lumps. Freeze for 3 hours, scraping with a fork every hour or until completely frozen.

Honey Glazed Plums with Almonds and Crème Fraîche

Honey Glazed Plums with Almonds and Crème Fraîche

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 large plums, pitted and halved
4 tablespoons crème fraîche
2 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Combine honey, thyme, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  3. Add pitted and halved plums; toss gently to coat.
  4. Arrange plum halves, cut sides down, on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes or until plums are well marked.
  5. Turn; grill 3 minutes or until tender.
  6. Arrange 2 plum halves on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 tablespoon crème fraîche and 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped toasted almonds.