Plums are tasty fruits of the genus Prunus that grow on large trees. Plum fruits have a stone in the middle surrounded by soft, sweet, or tart flesh. There are many species of plums, and a single plum tree can yield up to 100 lbs. (45 kg) of medium-sized fruits.
Plums can have an oval or round shape. Also, they can have black, purple, red, or yellow-colored skin. The flesh of plums is soft, ripe, and juicy and is usually amber. And mature plum fruits have a dusty-white coating.
Keep reading if you want to learn more about plums and their types.
Table of Contents
Types of Plums
Black plums range from bright red to deep purple, with a mild to sweet taste. Because black plums don’t fall apart when cooked or baked, they’re used in dishes such as plum tarts. This gives the dish a proper appearance and texture.
Black plums have more types which are as follows:
Black Ruby is around and reddish-brown plum with orange flesh. Unlike other types of plums, the Black Ruby’s center is freestone, meaning that the stone easily separates from the flesh.
Black Ruby’s trees can tolerate a humid climate and are cultivated in the damp areas of southern Europe.
Another type of black plum includes Friar, which has a lighter tone of amber flesh. Friar plums feature a round shape with a dark-violet to brightly black skin.
This late-season plum has a small pit and is sweet and juicy. Friar plums take some time to mature and are usually ripe three weeks after Black Ruby.
Black Beauty plums are purple and range from medium to large. This stone fruit is very juicy when soft and ripe. Stay away from hard and small plums with weird spots.
One easy method to ripen the Black Beauty plum is keeping it in a paper bag at room temperature. Spring or fall is the best time to buy Black Beauty at grocery stores.
This is a new plum variety that tastes delicious and has bluish-black color. You can find these plums in medium to large sizes with moist, red flesh.
Black Splendor is an early-season plum, meaning you can harvest it around June.
Elephant Heart Plum
The elephant heart plum lives up to its name. It’s a heart-shaped fruit, and its flesh doesn’t cling to the inside stones. Elephant heart plums produce the best harvest if they are cross-pollinated with other plum types such as Santa Rosa or Beauty plums.
This plum variety has a tart, sweet, and floral flavor. It is also juicy, and you can see its red flesh upon slicing the plum fruit. You can eat plum raw or incorporate it into desserts like plum tarts or plum cornmeal cake.
“Owen T” and “John W”
Both these types of black plums are amongst the large plum varieties. Owen T plums have attractive bluish-black skin with yellowish flesh.
On the other hand, John W plums have purple skin and orange flesh.
Red plums have a sweet-tart flavor that can increase your vitamin and mineral intake while giving you dose antioxidants at the same time.
Red plums are also a wise choice for those looking for ways to lose weight. Each plum contains up to a gram of fiber, a half-gram of protein, 5.5 grams of sugar, and no fat or cholesterol. These plums also improve heart health and prevent LDL cholesterol from clogging into your bloodstream.
The color of red plums varies from light red to dark purple. Like its skin color, the flesh also differs as some are red while others are lighter tones of yellow. The yellow-fleshed red plums are more nutrient-dense than the red-fleshed ones.
Yellow plums are a smaller and rounder variety of plums featuring yellow skin and flesh. With a firm and crisp texture, these fruits are juicy and provide maximum energy to the consumer. These tasty fruits are harvested in late summers to early autumns.
Yellow plums are ideal for making fruit preserves, dessert pies, jams, juices, and plum brandy. Research shows that 95% of commercially cultivated yellow plums are perfect for making fruit brandy or jams. It is best to use yellow plums when freshly harvested. Otherwise, the plum fruit may lose its original flavor and may not taste as delicious as it ought to.
Lemon plums came from a small variety of plums that is native to Chile. From its name, the outer appearance of a lemon plum looks like a lemon. However, the flesh is its distinguishing feature as it tastes like a plum that is sweet but with a hint of lemon taste. The flesh has a firm and crisp texture that softens as the fruit ripens.
You can eat the lemon plums fresh and raw by slicing them thinly and sprinkling them with a little salt. You can also incorporate it on your salads or make it into a tangy compote by cooking it with sugar.
Plumcots are a type of hybrid plums called interspecific plums. These hybrid plums provide an intensely sweet flavor without any bitter taste. Also, plumcots provide vitamins and minerals to your body. You can eat plumcots raw without having to peel the skin. The stones on this plum fruit are also small so that you can enjoy more flesh.
Satsuma (Blood Plum)
Satsuma plums are a Japanese variety of round plums. The maroon skin on this variety is firm and tough with a sour flavor. However, the deep-red flesh is very sweet and offsets the bitter-tasting skin.
The name blood plum refers to the deep red hue of the skin. Satsuma or blood plums are a semi-clingstone variety, meaning that their flesh partially clings to the stone. These plums are larger than European red plums.
Simca (simka) plums are a type of large, heart-shaped plums featuring deep reddish skins with a dusty-white coating. The dark-red skin covers golden-yellow flesh and has a sweet flavor.
As with most Japanese plums, Simca plums are juicier and larger. These delicious plums are best consumed fresh due to their juicy flesh.
Myrobalan (Cherry Plums)
Myrobalan plums are small fruits that resemble red or yellow cherries. Many cherry plum cultivars produce small sweet or tart plums. The sweet varieties of cherry plums are when eaten fresh. The tarter varieties are suitable for baking or making jellies.
Myrobalan plum trees are common backyard ornamental types of fruit trees. The plum trees can grow as small decorative fruit trees or garden shrubs. They are also one of the first fruit trees to flower in spring.
‘Santa Rosa’ plums are drupes featuring reddish-purple skin with juicy strawberry-colored flesh. These medium- to large-sized plum fruits have a round shape. Biting into Santa Rosa plums reveals a thin, layered skin covering juicy plum flesh. There is hardly any tartness, and many say that the sweet taste is reminiscent of a cherry-flavored fruit punch.
Santa Rosa plums have many uses, including eating fresh or for use in baked goods.
Mirabelle plums or prunes are surprisingly small and sweet fruits. They’re commonly grown in the Lorraine region of France. These syrupy plums are famous for their use in various baked goodies, jams, jellies, and fruit brandy.
Because Mirabelle plums are the rarest types of plum, you won’t find them in many countries except France. While you can grow Mirabelle plums in your home garden, the most genuine Mirabelle fruit is only common in France. Unfortunately, you can’t import Mirabelle plums to other countries due to concerns regarding importing fresh and excellent quality products.
To grow Mirabelle plums in your home garden, you will have to find an authentic and reliable supplier to provide you with high-quality plum saplings. You will also require big space and provide regular care and maintenance for these plums to grow healthy.
Pluots are a delicious, hybrid fruit with smooth yellowish flesh and reddish skin. You can find many varieties of pluots out there, including Flavorglo, Dapple Dandy, Flavor Grenade, and Dinosaur Egg.
Make the most of pluots by finding fresh, fragrant plums that are firm and vibrant. Avoid soft or soggy pluots as they aren’t ripe. Just like any other plum, pluots stay on the counter for three days and one week in a refrigerator.
This is one of the best European types of plums out there. It is longer and less round, giving it a unique appearance. Moyer plums are sold fresh and plump, having a pleasant and sweet flavor. Once dried out, these tasty plums retain their sweet flavor so that you can make different types of plum treats.
Due to their incredibly sweet taste, Mayor Plums also go by “sugar plums”. You may also find Moyer plums sold as French prunes, Italian plums, or just fresh prunes.
You can ensure the healthy growth of Moyer plum by planting its crop with other European plum types like Brooks Plum. Mayor Plums can’t get affected by pests, but you need to protect them against bacteria using a Bacterial Canker.
Depending on the variety, greengage plums range from small to medium size and feature pale yellow-green or red specks as their skin surface. These gorgeous fruits have dense and juicy flesh. They also feature a perfect balance of honey-like sweetness and subtle acidity of citrus fruits.
Greengage plums are sold out in the summers and have a dozen cultivars such as Bryanston, Imperial Gage, Reine Claude, Laxton’s Gage, Golden Transparent, and Cambridge Gage. Plums belonging to each cultivar have different skin or flesh color, flavor, and seasonality.
Greengage plums are flavorful and packed with a nutrient-ridden profile, containing vitamins A, C, and K. Additionally, they also have minerals like potassium and phosphorus.
These delicious plums are also very versatile. You can use them to make various dishes like ice creams, pies, and cakes. Plus, you can make delectable jams, compotes, reductions, and a wide variety of alcohol.
Another type of sweet plum is the ‘El Dorado’ cultivar. Even with its amber-colored flesh, this plum has a sweet flavor. This plum variety is an all-rounder as it’s one of the most versatile types of plums you can grow. The tart skin and firm flesh hold up well in cooking and baking. The sweet, juicy flesh also makes this a perfect plum for snacking on.
The ‘Black amber’ variety has a black, slightly tart skin, and juicy amber-colored flesh. Compared to other dark-colored plums, the ‘Black amber’ has a distinct tartness and firm flesh. The round plums have a blue appearance due to the waxy coating covering most types of prunes.
This plum type is ripe for eating in mid-to-late summer. You can use this plum to add flavor and texture to many dishes.
French Prune Plum
The ‘French Prune’ is a fresh plum perfect for drying to make prunes. This plum fruit has a long, oblong shape similar to a pear. The dark, smokey skin is light blue and purple and covers dark amber flesh. The ‘French Prune’ tree produces plums ready for harvesting in late summer. The most common variety in the United States is the ‘Improved French Prune.’ It can make the finest and sweetest prunes you can eat.
Italian Prune Plum
The Italian prune plum variety is a large, oblong, egg-shaped plum with a white powdery coating on purple-blue skin. When cooked, this freestone plum variety has green-amber flesh that turns a deep fuchsia color.
Although Italian prune plums are ideal for eating fresh, most of the harvest is dried to make prunes. Sometimes dark-skinned Moyer plums are also sold as Italian prunes or French prunes.
Damsons are a dark-skinned European plum type that has tart-flavored flesh. Unlike many other plum types, damsons are high in sugar with a strong taste. The purple skin covers firm yellow flesh that has a sour taste. This taste profile makes damson plums excellent for using in savory dishes to add a bit of tartness.
Damsons are ripe for harvesting from late August until October. There are many cultivars in the damson subspecies Prunus domestica insititia. Blue Violet, Shropshire Prune, Common Damson, and Frogmore are some of the most popular cultivars.
Blood plums are a Japanese-style plum type featuring dark red flesh and skin. The flesh of this plum fruit has a tough and firm texture, but it’s sweet and tasty when you bite into it. The fruit looks bigger than other types of plums, and it also has cherry tones. This type of plum is rich in antioxidants and can help your body fight against heart disease and other chronic illnesses. It’s also a good fruit for people who suffer from anxiety, high blood pressure, or constipation.
If you have a plum tree in the home garden, you won’t want to let those delicious fruits go to waste. Read on if you have questions regarding harvesting plums.
When is the Right Time for Picking Plum Fruit?
Plum trees are fertile and can yield from three to four bushels per year, so it is important to know when to harvest them. The best way to ensure the time is right for picking plums is by checking their firmness and flavor. You’ll notice plums becoming soft to the touch, and their taste will be sweet and juicy. The color of the ripe plums is also an indicator of plums at their peak. As plums ripen, the fruit develops its characteristic color. However, there are many plum types, so you need to know how the variety in your garden looks before harvesting. For example, plums varietals such as ‘Stanley’ and ‘Damson’ change from green to greenish-blue when ripe. Other plum types are ripe when the skin color changes from yellowish-green to red.
How to Pick Plums?
Some types of plums, such as Japanese varieties, are harvested a few days before they are fully ripe and then allowed to ripen in a cool, dry place. The fruit will have skin that looks ripe, but the fruit will be somewhat firm. European plums are ready for harvest as the fruit softens and the skin color changes to a lighter yellow. You can harvest early maturing types of plum over weeks. If you are interested in making prunes, let the plums ripen completely on the tree until they naturally fall. Gather them up and let them dry naturally under the sun or in a dehydrator or oven set at 175 F. (79 C.) for about 12 hours or so.
To hasten the indoor ripening process, keep the plums at temperatures between 60-80 F. (15-26 C.). High or low temperatures will likely cause internal damage, browning, or an off-taste. This is if you want to ripen plums in a hurry.
Pick your ripened plums by lightly grasping the fruit and gently twisting it from the stem. Once you have your plum harvest, you can eat freshly-picked juicy plums or use them in delicious recipes.
How to Cook With Plums?
Besides eating raw out of your hand, you can use plums in various ways. They’re common ingredients in baked goods such as pies, cakes, and tarts. Plum jam and chutney are popular, as are plum sauces for savory meat dishes and desserts. You can also use plums in beverages such as smoothies or plum wine. When you cook with black plum, the dark skin will give the dish a beautiful purple color.
To prepare plums for recipes, you’ll need to wash the outside well. Recipes will require you to cut the plum into halves or quarters and discard the pit. Recipes like jams require chopped plums for boiling. You can also grill or roast plum halves and poach quartered plums for a sweet fruit soup or compote.
What Does Plum Taste Like?
A plum is a sweet and juicy fruit with a pleasantly tart aftertaste. Some varieties can be sweeter or tarter than others. The texture is a bit firm but easy to bite.
Where to Buy Plums?
Most supermarkets stock fresh plums when the fruit’s in season. You can also find plums at some farmers’ markets. Plum comes into season in the middle of summer to early fall. This varies slightly with the climate and the specific variety.
Plums are delicate so handle them carefully to avoid bruising. When choosing a plum, give it a gentle squeeze. It should be a little firm, just like a peach. The plum’s skin should be vibrant and not have bruising or soft spots. Most plums have a dusty white matte powder on the skin that rinses off. This is a sign of ripe, freshly-picked fruit.
You can store ripe, ready-to-eat plums at room temperature. Alternatively, you can wrap plums loosely in plastic and keep them chilled. Allow hard plums to soften by storing them at room temperature. Place plums in a small paper bag to speed up the softening process. Unlike some fruit, plums stop developing sugars once picked from their tree.
You can freeze plums if you have too many to use right away. Wash and peel the plums if you prefer. Cut plums into smaller pieces, pit them and transfer them to an airtight container. Plums will stay fresh in the freezer for up to six months. Frozen plums are best for smoothies, baked goods, or jams.
Plum Health Benefits
The vitamin C in plums can help your body heal, build strong muscles, and form blood vessels. It’s also very nourishing for your eyes.
Here are other reasons plums are good for your health:
Heart disease: Phytochemicals in plums help lower the inflammation that triggers heart disease.
Anxiety: Eating plums every day can keep anxiety at bay. That’s because plums are high in antioxidants.
Relieve constipation: Plums can also help improve your digestive health and relieve constipation. They contain sorbitol and act as a natural laxative.
High blood pressure and stroke: The potassium in plums is suitable for blood pressure control in two ways. It helps remove sodium from your body when you pee, relieving tension in the blood vessels. When you have lower blood pressure, your chances of getting a stroke will decrease.
Major diseases: Antioxidants in plums protect the body against tissue damage that leads to diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.
Reduce blood sugar: Plums are full of fiber, which helps reduce a blood sugar spike after eating carbs. They can also boost your body’s production of hormones that help regulate your blood sugar levels.
Bone health: Dried plums can help reduce bone loss and even reverse it.
Plum Nutrient Profile
One cup of sliced plums contains:
- Calories: 76
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 18 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugar: 16 grams
Plums are also an excellent source of:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin K
Prunes or dried plums have the same nutrition benefits, but they contain higher sugar levels. One cup of prunes has 66 grams of sugar.
One cup of prunes also contains 12 grams of fiber. That’s why they’re a great home remedy for constipation. The fiber also gives them a low glycemic index, meaning they help control your blood sugar.