Do you have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head this holiday season? If you have no idea what this classic poem is referring to, don’t feel bad; I don’t either. Some history buffs will say that it referred to anything sweet and round in the 16th century, not just plums. Regardless of this Christmas mystery, plums truly can be a sweet treat.
The plum is a stone fruit, and it comes in many varieties and colors, such as red, purple, yellow or green. They have smooth edible skin, and most varieties have a sweet flesh but may have a somewhat tart aftertaste. Plums in grocery stores are picked when they’re firm and unripe. Therefore, you’ll need to let them ripen on the counter until slightly softened or put them in a loosely closed paper bag to speed up the process. Once ripened, store in the refrigerator for up to five days. In Illinois, plums are in season June through October. If you have trouble finding fresh plums at the market right now, you can always purchase dried plums, otherwise known as prunes.
One medium plum is about 30 calories, and a good source of vitamin C. Like many fruits, plums are a delicious snack either as is, or served over yogurt, oatmeal, or a lettuce salad. Pair plums with other stone fruits like peaches and apricots to make a stone fruit salad. Prunes are excellent in baked goods, such as cobblers and cakes, and they make a delicious jam or chutney. Cook the plums into a warm sauce and serve it over roasted chicken, turkey, or pork, or as a dipping sauce for egg rolls. Add dried plums to your holiday dressing, in breakfast muffins or in a salad. There are so many ways to add plums to your day, you may truly start having visions of them dancing in your head!
Simply Stewed Plums
4 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
8 plums, halved and pitted
In a medium saucepan, heat water, honey, orange juice and cinnamon stick over medium heat, stirring to a simmer. Add the plums and simmer for 10-14 minutes until plums are tender. Discard the cinnamon stick.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 260 calories, .5 grams fat, 5 milligrams sodium, 70 grams carbohydrate, 12 grams fiber, 2 grams protein
Source: Michigan Fitness Foundation. Michigan Harvest of the Month, 2016.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.