Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on September 24, 2011.
Plums are stone fruits, just like peaches and apricots. Although they probably originated in Asia, they were highly sought out by Egyptians and Romans, who dried them in the sun and valued the laxative virtues of prunes (i.e. dried plums).
Today, hundreds of different plum species are cultivated across all the continents. The fruit is typically spherical and slightly elongated in shape and its colour varies from light yellow to dark violet (plum colour).
British Columbia and Ontario are the largest producers of plums in Canada. Quebec has a limited production and only six to seven varieties are cultivated here, the most well-known being the Damson plum.
The quality of the plum that you buy mainly depends on how ripe it is when it is picked. Squeeze it gently to check its ripeness. The firmer fruits will ripen on the counter but you should avoid buying the hard ones, as they may never develop their full flavour.
Plums are rich in antioxidants and the antioxidant capacity of prunes is 2 to 3 times higher than that of plums. This could partly be due to the formation of new compounds during drying.
Try our recipe for Plum Compote