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Over 100 colorful varieties of plums are grown in the US alone. Head for your farmers’ market where growers are more likely to take a chance on lesser-known types, such as pluots, a plum and apricot hydrid. In Europe, sweet plum preserves are often made from the astringent damson variety; in Japan, small plums that have been dried, pickled and salted are called umeboshi; and in eastern Europe, plums are often used to make wine and brandy.
Peak Season: June to August
How to select: Look for unblemished skin that still retains a whitish cast (called the “bloom”); semi-firm fruit is ideal, but avoid very hard plums, which are immature.
Price range: $2 to $4 per pound
Keep it fresh: Ripen plums at room temperature until fruit yields easily to pressure. Either eat ripe plums right away or refrigerate to make them last 1 to 2 days longer.
Pairs well with: Goat cheese, pork, raspberries, arugula, basil
Creative uses: Caramelize sliced plums in a heavy skillet with a tablespoon of butter and serve with roasted pork. Make a salad of arugula, plums and goat cheese with balsamic vinaigrette.
Nutrition highlights: Plums contain chlorogenic and neochlorogenic acid, two phytonutrients that have been shown to protect fat molecules in our bodies (such as the fats that make up cell membranes and brain cells) from oxygen damage.