Jun 26, 2013

Pluots, Apriums, Apriplums, and Plumcots


What are they, you ask?  These unusual-sounding names are all simply hybrids of plums and apricots. The name signifies what proportion of plum or apricot they contain. Some varieties of these fruits have occurred naturally in orchards where both plums and apricots are grown from seeds. They are also manually cultivated to combine flavors and characteristics of both species. Plumcots and apriplums have been around for a while now. Pluots are a recent cultivar with more plum features while apriums are more closely related to apricots and are noted for their sweet taste, due to their high content of fructose and other complex sugars. The aprium has skin covered with a bit of fuzz and tastes like a sweeter apricot with a hint of plum.
Demand for these hybrid fruits, especially pluots, has skyrocketed. Pluots now make up a majority of the plum market. In fact, you might be eating a pluot or an aprium and not even know it.
 No matter which version of these luscious fruit you try, you will benefit from their high fiber, vitamins and minerals. They all make for a delightful addition to a variety of savory and sweet dishes.
More than a century ago, horticulturalist Luther Burbank bred the plumcot with a 50-50 plum and apricot split. However, it was geneticist Floyd Zaiger who revolutionized the fruit and made it widely available. More than 20 varieties of pluots have been developed by Zaiger Genetics, and more are being developed each season. Each variety comprises a different percentage of plum and apricot genes resulting in fruit of a varying attributes: Their skins can be golden yellow or pale green speckled with magenta, and their flesh range in color from creamy white to blood red.
The plum-apricot (and all their offshoots) season in the U.S. is pretty short lived.  It runs from May through August. Look for fruits with a rich color while avoiding those that are pale and hard. You can ripen firm fruit at home by placing them in a paper bag with an apple or a banana. 
The best way to enjoy these luscious fruits is by eating them out of hand, but if you like to incorporate fresh fruit into your baked goods you can substitute pluots, plumcots or apriums for any plum or apricot recipe in your repertoire or try ours here.

4 pluots (about 3/4 pound), pitted and cut in 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons sugar



1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces frozen puff pastry, thawed
8 teaspoons plum or apricot jam

Whipped cream for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, toss the fruit with sugar and spices.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry until 1/8-inch thick and cut out eight 4-inch circles, gathering remnants and re-rolling the pastry if necessary.
Arrange the pastry discs on a lightly greased baking sheet and brush them with 1 teaspoon jam each. Curl up the edges in to form a 1/2-inch border and arrange four to five pluot slices in each cup, overlapping them slightly.
Bake the tartlets for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Cool on a rack and serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Summertime is the right time to try your hand at preparing homemade jam.  While it may seem a throwback to something your grandmother did, just wait till you taste the true fruti flavor of your jam.  You can either store the prepared jam in the refrigerator or jar it for long storage.  If you plan on jarring your jam, prepare the jars before you begin the making the jam. 
Wash 8 half pint canning jars, lids and bands.   Put lids in a small sauce pan of simmering water until needed.  Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a simmer.  Place the jars in the water and keep the jars in the simmering water until needed.

5 cups, 3 lbs or approximate 35 medium-sized apricots, plums, plumcots, apriplums or other variety, pitted
¼ cup lemon juice
7 cups sugar
1 envelope pectin

In the bowl of your food processor fitted with a metal blade, finely chop fruit.  Place chopped fruit in a medium saucepan.  Stir in lemon juice and pectin. 
Bring to a boil over high heat and add sugar stirring to dissolve completely.  Once the sugar has melted, return mixture to a boil and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.  Skim foam if necessary.  
Remove one jar from the simmering water. Ladle hot jam into hot jar, leaving ¼” space at the top. Wipe rim and threads with a clean damp cloth.  Cap jar with 2 piece lid and adjust until resistance is met.  Do not over-tighten. Place filled jar back in the water-filled stockpot.  Repeat with remaining jars until all jam is used and all jars are full.  Place lid on stockpot and bring to a gentle steady boil.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Using tongs or a jar lifter, remove jars from pot and set upright on a kitchen towel.  Let cool 12 to 24 hours.  After 24 hours, test the seal on each lid by pressing the center of the lid. The lid should not flex up or down.  If it does, refrigerate jar or repeat boiling process with a new lid.
Store jam jars in a cool dry place for up to one year.




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