Pluots and plumcots are relative newcomers to the glorious club of summer stone fruits. The name “pluot” was trademarked by plant geneticist Floyd Zaiger, who originated the hybrid fruit some 20 years ago; they’re 75% plum and 25% apricot. Plumcots, a 50-50 cross between plums and apricots, were developed by Luther Burbank, the pioneering horticulturist who also developed the Russet Burbank potato.
Pluots and plumcots come in a wide array of colors, from deep purple to crimson, green and yellow. They all resemble plums in appearance and texture, but their hybridization with apricots results in a sweeter, less acidic and very flavorful fruit. Pluots and plumcots both have a higher sugar content than apricots, and their skins are less sharp and tannic than those of true plums. These delectable hybrids embrace the best qualities of both fruits but are more durable than apricots, and through cross-breeding have extended the length of the lamentably short apricot season.
Today there are more than 80 different varieties of pluots and plumcots grown in the US, most of which come from California. Some of the most popular pluot varieties you’ll encounter over the course of the season — especially in farmer’s markets where they’re well represented — are Dapple Dandy (sometimes also called Dinosaur Egg, a trademarked brand), Flavor King, Flavor Queen, Black Velvet and Flavorosa.
How to select and store pluots & plumcots
Select firm, ripe fruit with a noticeably sweet fragrance. The flesh at the stem end should give just a bit when pressed gently. Avoid specimens with soft spots or damaged skin.
To ripen the fruit at home, store at room temperature in a loosely closed paper bag.
Once they’re ripe, enjoy your pluots and plumcots immediately for the best flavor, or refrigerate loose fruit for up to 4 days. Ripe stone fruit is incredibly fragile — never pile pluots or plumcots on top of each other or they’ll bruise.
Tips for using pluots & plumcots
Pluots and plumcots tend to be semi-freestone fruits, which means that their flesh will separate from the pit fairly easily. Some varieties, however, are more resistant; their pit must be cut free with a knife.
These super-sweet fruits can stand in for plums or apricots in almost any recipe. Fabulous eaten out of hand at room temperature, they’re also delicious in baked goods or as the base for fruit salsas or a piquant barbecue sauce. They add interest to couscous and salads, and they make wonderful ice creams and sorbets.
Why choose organic pluots & plumcots?
Plums, ancestor of pluots and plumcots, rank #22 (imported) and #37 (domestic) on the Environmental Working Group’s “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides,” a list of produce that carries the most pesticide residues when grown conventionally.
In addition, conventional commercial stone fruits are often coated with a petroleum-derived wax impregnated with fungicide to prolong their shelf life. This chemical substance penetrates the skin and enters the flesh of the fruit, so it can’t simply be washed off.
Choosing organic pluots and plumcots (when you can) makes sense — especially for children, whose growing bodies are so much more susceptible to environmental chemical exposures than adults’.
Organic stone fruits are grown without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, using sustainable farming methods that protect the environment and help keep pesticides out of our soil, air, water and food supply. Organic food is the healthiest choice for people and the planet — and we think organic fruit tastes better, too!