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  • Keith Seaman / www.camerad.com

    California plum varieties include black, red and green.

  • Deb Lindsey / The Washington Post

    Grilled plum and Asian pear salad with radicchio can be made vegan, if silken tofu is used instead of whole-milk ricotta.

  • Emily Michot / MCT

    Plum crostata is adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You’ll Make Over and Over Again.”

  • California Tree Fruit Agreement

    Sweet stone fruit bruschetta has plums, peaches or nectarines, and walnuts.

  • Brian Hagiwara / Hearst Books

    Pork steaks with plum glaze, from Good Houskeeping’s “Grill It!” cookbook, can be prepared on an outdoor grill.

  • Mark DuFrene / MCT

    Chinese long bean and Pluot salad is from Alan Jackson and JoAnn Cianciulli’s “The Lemonade Cookbook.” Pluots/plumcots are hybridized plums.

More Information

  • Pork steaks with plum glaze

    Prep time: 10 minutes

    Cook time: 6 minutes

    Serves 4

    From Good Housekeeping’s “Grill It!” cookbook.

    INGREDIENTS

    One  1-pound pork tenderloin

    Salt and black pepper

    1/2  cup plum jam or preserves

    tablespoon brown sugar

    1  tablespoon (grated) ginger, peeled

    1  tablespoon fresh lemon juice

    1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon or five-spice powder

    2  clove garlic, crushed

    4  large plums, each cut in half and pitted

    INSTRUCTIONS

    Preheat ridged grill pan or prepare outdoor grill for covered direct grilling over medium heat. Cut pork tenderloin lengthwise, almost in half. Open tenderloin like a book and spread flat. Place tenderloin between 2 sheets plastic wrap and, with meat mallet or rolling pin, pound to an even 1/4-inch thickness. Cut tenderloin into 4 steaks; season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.

    In small bowl, mix jam, sugar, ginger, lemon juice, cinnamon and garlic. Brush 1 side of each pork steak and cut side of each plum half with plum-jam glaze. Place steaks and plums, glaze side down, on hot grill pan or rack. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Brush steaks and plums with remaining glaze. Turn steaks and plums; grill 3 minutes longer or until steaks are browned on both sides and just lose their pink color throughout and plums are tender.

    Per serving: 309 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat.); 66 mg chol.; 524 mg sodium; 42 g carb.; 2 g fiber; 25 g protein.

  • Chinese long bean and Pluot salad

    Makes 4 cups

    From Alan Jackson and JoAnn Cianciulli, “The Lemonade Cookbook” (St. Martin’s Press, $30, 240 pages).

    INGREDIENTS

    For vinaigrette:

    1/2  cup hoisin sauce

    1/3  cup plum sauce

    tablespoons soy sauce

    teaspoons sesame oil

    teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar

    teaspoon balsamic vinegar

    small shallot, chopped

    2  garlic cloves, smashed

    2  teaspoons peeled, chopped fresh ginger

    1/2  teaspoon Dijon mustard

    1/2  teaspoon honey or agave nectar

    For salad:

    11/2  pounds Chinese long beans, about 1 bunch (or green beans)

    tablespoon canola oil

    4  Pluots or plums, halved, pitted and thinly sliced

    1/3  cup plum vinaigrette (see above)

    4  scallions, white and green parts, cut on bias

    1/2  teaspoon coarse salt

    1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    INSTRUCTIONS

    For vinaigrette: In a blender, combine all the vinaigrette ingredients and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Vinaigrette may be kept, refrigerated, up to a week.

    For salad: Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with water; add a tray of ice cubes.

    Blanch the long beans for 3 minutes. Transfer to the ice bath. Once the beans are completely cool, drain then. Cut the beans on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces.

    Coat a large skillet with oil; place over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the beans and stir-fry until they start to shrivel and turn bright green. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

    To the cooled beans, add the Pluots, vinaigrette and scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Toss gently. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.

  • Plum crostata

    Serves 8

    This is sublime with a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream.

    Adapted from “Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You’ll Make Over and Over Again” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter, $35, 256 pages).

    INGREDIENTS

    For the pastry:

    1  cup all-purpose flour

    tablespoons sugar

    1/4  teaspoon salt

    1/4  pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced and chilled

    3  tablespoons ice water

    For the filling:

    11/2  pounds firm, ripe black plums, pitted

    pint blueberries

    tablespoon flour

    1  tablespoons sugar

    1/4  teaspoon grated orange zest

    tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

    ¼  teaspoon kosher salt

    INSTRUCTIONS

    To make the dough: Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until it’s the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Stop processing just before the dough comes together. Roll it into a ball, press it into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

    Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. (It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle.) Transfer it to the baking sheet.

    To make the filling: Cut the plums in wedges and place them in a bowl with the blueberries. Toss with the flour, sugar, orange zest and juice and salt. Place the mixed fruit on the dough circle, leaving a 11/2-inch border. Gently fold the border over the fruit, pleating it to make an edge.

    Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender. Let the crostata cool for 5 minutes, then use two large spatulas to transfer it to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Per serving: 276 calories (38 percent from fat), 12 g fat (7 g sat.), 31 mg cholesterol, 2 g protein, 41 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 128 mg sodium.

  • Sweet stone fruit bruschetta

    Prep time: 20 minutes

    Cook time: 2 minutes

    Serves 8

    Chopped fruit replaces veggies in this easy and versatile recipe you can serve as a garden party appetizer, breakfast treat or afternoon snack. From the California Tree Fruit Agreement for The Associated Press.

    INGREDIENTS

    24 (1/4-inch) sweet baguette slices

    1/4  cup butter, softened

    tablespoons brown sugar, divided

    1/4  teaspoon cinnamon

    1/2  cup chopped peaches or nectarines

    1/2  cup chopped plums

    tablespoons fresh lime juice

    tablespoons chopped glazed walnuts

    INSTRUCTIONS

    Preheat broiler. Lay the baguette slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet.

    Stir together the butter, 4 tablespoons of the brown sugar and all the cinnamon and spread on one side of each baguette slice.

    Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbly and bread is lightly browned on the edges.

    Stir together the remaining brown sugar, the fruit and lime juice in a small bowl.

    Spoon equal amounts over the bread slices and sprinkle with walnuts.

  • Plums and pluots 101

    Pluot or plumcot: Plums and their close cousins apricots can be “crossed” (or bred together) to create a new fruit with characteristics of both parents. The result of such plant breeding is an interspecific plum or “plumcot.” Luther Burbank experimented with plumcots more than a century ago. More recently, Modesto tree breeder Floyd Zaiger trademarked the name “Pluot” (pronounced plew-ott) for his many plum-apricot crosses such as Flavor Grenade and Dapple Dandy. The popularity of Zaiger’s modern Pluots have made that term common for these plum-apricot crosses – and also got other hybridizers into mixing plums and apricot species. Because of that trend and possible trademark issues, some farmers and fruit marketers now prefer to use “plumcot” instead of Pluot for this fruit.

    Nutrition: One plum or plumcot contains about 30 calories. Plums and plumcots are both high in vitamin C and offer several antioxidants (such as lutein, cryptoxanthin and zea-xanthin) and minerals (including iron, potassium and fluoride). Recent research found that plums and plum crosses contain as much or more antioxidants and phytonutrients as blueberries.

    Selection: Plums and plumcots come in a wide spectrum of colors. Some of the sweetest plumcots are bright green. Instead of color, look for texture. The fruit should feel firm with just a little give when gently squeezed. Avoid fruit that is overripe; its skin will feel loose and the fruit will seem squishy or watery.

    Storage: Plums and plumcots continue to ripen at room temperature for about a week off the tree. Once they reach desired ripeness, store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Both can be frozen for later use up to one year. Chop or slice before freezing.

    Preparation: Plums and plumcots have a natural protective coating or “bloom” that gives their skin a silvery, waxy appearance. Keep that coating on until ready for use. Then, wash and wipe with a paper towel.

    Easy peeling: Some recipes call for peeled plums or plumcots, which can be a messy job, especially if the fruit is juicy. Here’s an easy shortcut. First, wash the fruit. With a sharp paring knife, slice through the plum’s skin along the fruit’s natural grove down to the stone. (Or you can halve the plums if you prefer.) Place the fruit in a large bowl and pour boiling water over the plums. Let the fruit sit in its hot-water bath for 5 minutes. Then pour off the water. (Use a strainer to keep the fruit in the bowl.) With the paring knife, remove the skin off the fruit by peeling it back. The hot water releases the skin from the flesh, making this process much quicker.

    Debbie Arrington

  • Grilled plum and Asian pear salad with radicchio

    Serves 4

    This salad combines summer’s bounty in an inventive way, melding sharp, spicy and sweet flavors in one dish. A grill pan and stove top can be used instead of an outdoor grill.

    Based on a recipe in “Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro,” by Makini Howell (Sasquatch Books, $29.95, 160 pages).

    INGREDIENTS

    1/2  cup (4 ounces) whole-milk ricotta (may substitute silken tofu)

    tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

    Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lime

    large basil leaves, chopped

    serrano chili pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped

    1  tablespoon agave syrup

    Sea salt

    Freshly ground black pepper

    medium plums, halved and pitted (about 12 ounces total)

    large head radicchio, cored and torn into bite-size pieces

    small head butter lettuce, cored and torn into bite-size pieces

    Asian pear, peeled, cored and cut into batons or matchsticks (may substitute 8 ounces jicama matchsticks)

    INSTRUCTIONS

    Combine the ricotta, oil, lime zest and juice, basil, serrano pepper, agave and a pinch each of salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Purée until smooth.

    Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to high (500 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly in the cooking area. For a very hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 5 inches above the coals for 1 or 2 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly grease the grill rack with cooking oil spray and place it on the grill. (Alternatively, use an indoor grill pan set over high heat.)

    Lightly sprinkle the plum halves with salt and pepper. Grill, cut sides down, until darkly seared, 2 or 3 minutes, then turn them over and grill for 2 to 3 minutes on second side. Transfer to a plate to cool.

    Arrange the radicchio, lettuce and Asian pear on a platter, or divide among individual plates. If doing the latter, place two plum halves on each plate. Drizzle the dressing over the salad(s) and serve.

    Per serving: 170 calories; 8 g fat (3 g sat.); 15 mg chol.; 100 mg sodium; 22 g carb.; 3 g fiber; 16 g sugar; 5 g protein.

In season: Plums and Pluots (a.k.a. plumcots)

Published: Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2014 - 12:00 am

For generations, plums have been a California delicacy, sweet and juicy straight off the tree. But in recent years, the old-time favorites have been replaced by fast-rising hybrid stars. The familiar Santa Rosas are making way for Dinosaur Eggs.

California produces more than 90 percent of the nation’s plums. Many growers are phasing in new “interspecific plum” hybrids, often crossed with apricots and commonly called Pluots or plumcots.

“Looking at the varieties (coming to market), we’re seeing more primary varieties of Pluots than primary plum varieties,” said Barry Bedwell of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League. “Clearly, the trend is towards the interspecific plum hybrids.”

Now is the height of plum season.

“Like most fruit this year, it’s coming off a little early,” Bedwell said. “Most varieties are running about a week earlier than normal. The majority will come in within the next 45 days.”

The drought has put limitations on many California farmers, but plums of all kinds seem to be doing OK.

“Our growers are getting by with groundwater supply,” Bedwell noted. “The good news: There’s a lot of good fruit. When trees are dried out a little bit, they try to push out even more fruit; it’s nature’s way of coping with drought – who knows how much water (the trees) will get next year. So, 2014 will be a good year for both growers and consumers. But our concern is about the future; (if the drought continues), we could see wells going dry.”

Consumers have embraced the new varieties of plum hybrids with catchy names, Bedwell said.

“There’s a different philosophy now in naming fruit,” he said. “The old Santa Rosa and Angelina plums; they gave you a sense of place. But now, a little more marketing goes into it. We’ve got Flavor Grenades and Dinosaur Eggs (both Pluots); who wouldn’t want to try one of those?”

While prune plums grow primarily in the Sacramento Valley, California’s fresh plum belt centers in the lower San Joaquin Valley.

“The growers are really concentrated in Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties,” Bedwell said.

In the past 15 years, Pluots and plumcots have become increasingly more common in California orchards. Each variety has a short season – three or four weeks – but those seasons string together from May through October.

“The open pollination of plums and apricots has added a lot of flavor, a lot of aroma, a lot of crispness,” said fruit grower David Jackson of Family Tree Farms near Reedley. “The sugar (content) also goes up. There are so many different colors. It’s kind of become a jelly bean factory.”

A seventh-generation farmer, Jackson and his family grow 4,500 acres of stone fruit – peaches, plums, nectarines and plum crosses – or as he says, “the most flavorful fruit in the world.”

He prefers the name “plumcot” to Pluot, which is trademarked by Modesto plant breeder Floyd Zaiger of Zaiger’s Genetics. (Zaiger’s hybrid Pluots are sold through Dave Wilson Nursery.)

“Floyd really is the father of all this,” Jackson said. “When you see Pluot, you know it’s Floyd’s. Now, all these other people see how good this fruit can be. So, we’re seeing people all over the world trying to (breed) these things.”

The name Pluot (pronounced plew-ott) also tended to raise more eyebrows than recognition, he noted.

“We’ve been one of the biggest proponents of Pluots from the start,” Jackson said. “We’re always trying to explain to everybody what a Pluot is. They’d see that word and say, ‘Plot?’ ‘Plute?’ ‘What?’ It’s a combination of a plum and an apricot; when you say it’s a plumcot, people understand that.”

Jackson’s favorite plumcots are Flavor Grenade (an extra juicy yellow-green Pluot developed by Zaiger) and his farm’s own trademarked Family Tree Plumogranate, which looks as red as a pomegranate. Family Tree Farms grows close to 70 varieties of plumcots and is always looking for new ones.

“It’s very exciting,” Jackson said. “We do a lot of our own research and development. We do taste tests with fruit from 28 different (hybridizers) from around the world. We look at hundreds of different plumcots.”

Which means shoppers can expect more plumcot variations coming to markets soon.

“Instead of just red or black plums, we have a whole rainbow,” Jackson said. “They’re crispy and flavorful. They’ve added a sparkle to summer fruit.”


Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.

Read more articles by Debbie Arrington



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