The word plum also means “the best,&" and it's no wonder. Plums are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. One bite yields a fleshy texture, with a sweet -- or sometimes sour -- taste, so it takes a keen eye and smart grip to choose a good one. Sweet and firm varieties are dried into prunes.
It is hard to judge ripeness by colour, since so many colourful varieties exist. The best-tasting plums have a smooth skin, free of bruises, leaks, shrivels or blemishes caused by insects and disease. Avoid very soft or hard plums, aiming for a slightly soft, plump one that yields to gentle thumb pressure.
At room temperature, unripe fruit will soften and become less acidic, but will not become much sweeter. Keep them in a paper bag, and check daily. Store ripe unwashed plums covered in the coldest part of the refrigerator for three to five days. Plums contain ethylene, a natural compound responsible for maturation. Store plums away from ethylene-sensitive fruits such as kiwis, bananas and watermelon, since it can cause them to ripen faster as well.
A fruit serving consists of three small plums. One plum contains 36 calories, and is a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium and fibre. Plums are rich in antioxidants associated with a reduced risk of cancer. Enjoy them all year round in jams, jellies, snacks, compotes and baking.
Plums and prunes are known for their laxative effect, but this is not just because of the fibre. Isatin, a natural laxative in plums, also gives prune juice its functional fame.
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