Find a local pick your own farm here!

Plum picking tips and Plum Facts

Plum picking tipsPlum Facts, Picking Tips and Recipes

In the U.S., Plums typically peak during July for Sugar Plums; August for Blue, Yellow and Red Plums. In order to produce good local plums, producers depend on ideal spring and early summer weather conditions, and no late frosts.  If you are looking for a plum festival, see this page.

Before you leave to go to the farm:

  1. Always call before you go to the farm - Plums are affected by weather (both rain and cooler temperature) more than most crops. And when they are in season, a large turnout can pick a field clean before noon, so CALL first!
  2. Leave early.  On weekends, then fields may be picked clean by NOON!
  3. Some growers furnish picking containers designed for plums, but they may charge you for them; be sure to call before you go to see if you need to bring containers.
    If you use your own containers, remember that heaping Plums more than 14 inches deep will bruise the fruit on the bottom. Plastic dishpans, metal oven pans with 3 inch tall sides and large pots make good containers.
  4. Bring something to drink and a few snacks; you'd be surprised how you can work up a thirst and appetite! And don't forget hats and sunscreen for the sun. Bugs usually aren't a problem, but some deet might be good to bring along if it has been rainy.
  5. You might want to ask whether the plums are! There are two major types of plums: "Freestone" and. "Clingstone". Freestone plums have flesh that slips easily away from the pit. Clingstones are a REAL pain, because the fruit tenaciously clings to the stone or pit! Most plum varieties grown today are freestone and are usually available (depending upon your location) from June through September. Some nectarines are freestone and some are clingstone. Freestone nectarines are available in June and July. Most plum varieties are clingstone. 

Tips on How to Pick PlumsDamson plums

A plum is softer than most fruit, so it is important to pick a plum gently, with little pressure. Using the sides of your fingers rather your fingertips helps to avoid bruising.  Grab the plum firmly and pull it straight off the branch. DON'T drop the plum into the basket, but set it in gently!

Typical 2019 Orchard Plum Pricing:

  • Average price is $2.49 /lb.

Picking Tips:

How to tell if the plums are ripe!

  • Attached to the tree: Plums are best picked when the fruit separates easily from the twigs. If it is hard to pull off the tree, it isn't ripe! Plums will not ripen further once removed from the tree (they only "soften")
  • Color: Green is definitely unripe, but you can't use red color as an indicator of how ripe a plum is. Different plum varieties have differing colors, darker is usually better in any variety. Pick them when the ground color changes from green to yellow, orange, red or even blue or purple (or a combination).
  • Softness: unless you like your plums very firm, pick your plums with just a little "give" when gently pressed. Plums at this stage are great for eating, freezing, and baking. Plums won't ripen very much after picking!
  • Odor: It should smell sweet and ripe!
  • Larger plums are riper.
  • Sugar plums grow in clusters, so carefully select the plum you want out of the cluster.
  • Place them gently in a shallow wide container, no more than 8-inches deep, to avoid crushing the fruit.

 

Marks on the Plums: Bugs (particularly squash bugs and stink bugs) bite fruit during development and this results in some imperfections in the plum. This is especially the case with organically raised fruit.  These look like dents in the plums if the plums were bitten by a bug when they were young. This causes a spot that does not grow properly and makes a wrinkle in the plum. There's nothing wrong with these plums. They may look funny, but they will taste just as good as blemish-free plums, and it's better not to have the pesticides!Plums

When you get home

  1. Spread the fruit out on towels or newspapers and separate any mushy or damaged fruit to use immediately.
  2. Put a couple of days supply into the fridge, wash and cut the others and freeze them up!
  3. Even under ideal conditions plums will only keep for a week in a refrigerator, so for best flavor and texture, use them as soon as possible after purchase
  4. Now, get ready to make Plum jam or canned plums - It is VERY easy - especially with our free 
     - how to make home canned plums from fresh!
    - Or see here to freeze plums instead!
    - make your own home canned plum pie filling to use in the winter
  5. Here's a great and easy plum pie recipe
    or plum-blueberry pie
    - or how about plum salsa?
    - Plum chutney
    - Spiced plums
    - plum butter or even
    - pickled plums?
  6. Here are some great and easy plum desert recipes, like easy plum cobbler.
  7. If you want more informat about the Giant Plum water tower in Gaffney, SC, click her.

How much do you need?

Raw measures:

  • About 2 medium plums = 1/2 cup sliced plums.
  • About 4 medium plums = 1 /2cup pureed plum.
  • About 3 medium plums = 1 /2 pound of plums

Process yields (Raw amounts to processed amounts)

  • 2 to 21/2 pounds of fresh plums yields 1 quart canned
  • 1 lb of fresh plums typically yields 3 cups of peeled, sliced plums or 2 cups or puree.
  • It takes about 10 plums to fill one quart jar of canned plums.
  • An average of 171/2 pounds of fresh plums are needed per canner load of 7 quarts;
  • An average of 11 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints.
  • 1 bushel = 48 to 50 pounds, yields approximately 18 to 25 quart jars.

 

Plums-Average retail price per pound and per cup equivalent

Plum pit tips

It's best to remove plum pits before you cook the plums. Cherry, plum, and apricot pits also contain amygdalin; the latter two, in potentially harmful amounts. Fortunately, plum and apricot pits are sufficiently large and hard that few people intentionally swallow or chew them. (The unapproved anti-cancer drug Laetrile is a semisynthetic derivative of amygdalin; a cheaper version of laetrile produced in Mexico came from crushed apricot pits.) See this page for more information.

Nutritional Information

    • plums are virtually fat free. A medium size plum contains less than one gram of fat.
    • plums are naturally sodium free.
    • plums have no cholesterol.
    • plums are a low calorie snack. A medium size plum contains only 40 calories.
    • plums contain vitamin A which helps us see in dim light.
    • plums are considered a good source of fiber. The skin of a plum provides both roughage and fiber.

Temporary Storage Tips

  • Ripe plums have a creamy or golden undertone and "plumy-sweet" fragrance.
  • Plums should be refrigerated and used within a few days.
  • Putting plums in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature for a day or two can help soften firm fruit - but they won't become sweeter or ripen further - that stopped when they were removed from th etree.
  • For best flavor, allow the fruit to ripen fully on the tree.
  • Store at 33°F to 40°F  and high humidity (a vegetable drawer in the fridge).

Plum recipes

Substituting Frozen or Canned Plums for Fresh

In most recipes, frozen or canned plums can be substituted for fresh plums. The frozen and canned plums have already been sweetened; therefore, the amount of sugar called for in a recipe will have to be adjusted. Also, the plums should usually be drained before using.