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What time of year do plum trees fruit?
A: Plums should be harvested when they are fully ripe. The weather should be warm with no strong winds. The plum crop is picked mechanically by hand.
Q: I like plums but the pits are very hard. How do I break them open so I can get the pulp out?
A: Slice an unripe plum in half. Dip the halved plum in warm water for a few minutes. The pits will separate from the flesh and the halves should hold together when you remove them from the water.
Q: I have a plum tree in my yard. How do I get it to bear fruit?
A: Plum trees usually need cross-pollination to produce fruit. Try crossing a plum tree with a different variety of plum tree, or a cherry tree, to determine which tree will be a good pollinator.
Q: Is it possible to have a plum tree inside?
A: Yes, many varieties of plums will grow inside. You'll need to protect them from direct sunlight, but if they get plenty of sunlight and a little water, they should be fine.
Q: I like plums but I don't like the pits. Can I have them without the pits?
A: Plums grown in the Northeast tend to be high in Vitamin A and also have very few calories. If you have a very mild case of dermatitis, you can eat them, but if you're prone to allergies, don't.
Q: What is the best way to keep plums fresh when you don't have an internal temperature controlled refrigerator?
A: Plums do not keep as well as some other fruits such as strawberries. They should be stored in the refrigerator, but it's better to have them fresh from the market. When they are brought home, they should be kept in a covered bowl to protect them from light.
Q: How do I tell if a plum is ripe?
A: The skin of a mature plum should be hard to the touch. It will feel dry and wrinkled. A mature plum can also look glossy and yellow, especially in the sunlight. The color will change slightly if the plum is left outside for a while. It can be difficult to know if a plum is ripe by looking at the skin. You can also taste the skin to see if it's hard to the touch, but this is best done when the fruit is at room temperature. You can then just try to pinch the skin and if it's a little chewy or "tough," it means the plum is ripe.
Q: How do I keep a plum from spoiling before I get around to eating it?
A: Plums are relatively easy to store. Just keep them in the refrigerator in a covered bowl and make sure you pull them out to eat within 2 to 3 days of buying them.
Q: Can I just buy plums? I don't want to buy a whole crate!
A: Yes, but a 1-pound box of plums can often be hard to find. If you have access to a plum tree, consider buying a box of plums. And don't be scared to buy a whole crate. I often buy a whole crate of plums at the end of the summer and eat them throughout the fall and winter.
Q: Can I use honey to sweeten a plum pie?
A: Yes, as long as the honey is at least 10 percent acacia.
Q: How do I keep plums fresh in my refrigerator?
A: Keep them in a closed container and keep them at the very back of the refrigerator. They should be in a cool area, but not too cold. They should be removed after 3 to 4 days and can last for a few weeks if stored properly. Don't put any foods with a high water content (like watermelon) near them.
Q: How do I know when a plum is ripe?
A: When a plum begins to turn from green to gold. They are ready to eat when they are firm but give a little to the touch.
Q: Are plums a fall or a winter fruit?
A: You can grow plums year-round. They will need a cold climate. In the South they are often available in the fall when they are in peak season.
Plum Festival in Portland, Oregon.
### PROSCIUTTO PLUMS
_A combination of pears and plums is like a fruit ménage à trois! You get sweet, sour, crunchy, and creamy all at the same time. They will take up space in the refrigerator for at least a few days, but they make an excellent snack all year round._
_You can use any type of ripe fruit you like. Experiment and see what you like. The plums are slightly firmer than pears, which give them an interesting texture._
MAKES ABOUT 4 CUPS
¼ cup (55 g) unsalted butter
1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 pound (455 g) ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch-thick (6-mm-thick) slices
½ cup (125 ml) fresh orange juice
½ cup (125 ml) plum juice
¼ cup (60 ml) white wine
1 cup (about 1 ½ ounces) sliced dried Calimyrna plums
½ cup (50 g) chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons apple juice
⅓ cup (1 ¼ ounces) confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting
In a medium saucepan, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the brown sugar, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and vinegar. Stir well to combine. Add the pears and orange juice, bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the plum juice, wine, plums, hazelnuts, and lemon zest. Stir to combine and let stand until ready to serve.
Drain the pears, reserving the liquid in the pan. Return the pears to the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes to thicken the sauce. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the apple juice, whisk well, and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the confectioners' sugar and, if desired, a sprinkle of fresh ground cinnamon.
Serve immediately, or keep warm in a warm oven.
**–Cherry-Rosemary.** To make this variation, add 2 tablespoons rosemary and ½ cup (125 ml) fresh cherry juice to the other ingredients.
**–Clementine-Rosemary.** To make this variation, substitute 3 clementines and 1 cup (250 ml) fresh orange juice for the pears.
**–Cranberry-Rosemary.** To make this variation, substitute 2 cups (375 ml) cranberry juice for the pears and add 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves.
YIELD: 4 servings
### ◁ PLUM CUSTARD PUDDING