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Eat it: A plum role

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Plums may be perceived as a little old-fashioned – the old great-aunt of the fruit family. With ‘trendier’ fruit and vegetables such as blood oranges and kale dominating the headlines, we thought it was time to go back to our British fruit roots and celebrate the good old plum in all its majesty.

The plum originated in China, but the oldest of plum varieties is thought to be Prunus salicina, also known as the Japanese plum. Eventually, the plum made its way to south-east Europe, reaching Greece via Syria, but it’s been a staple of a northern European diet for centuries. 

Originally grown in monastery gardens in Britain, Chaucer even mentioned plums in his 14th century writings.  

There are a huge number of known health benefits to eating plums. One medium-sized plum contains 113mg of potassium, which can help to manage high blood pressure. Additionally, plums are low on the glycaemic index, meaning they can be used as a natural way to control Type 2 diabetes while still getting that sweet fix we all crave.

Contrary to popular belief, colour is not actually a useful guide for plum ripeness. Plum colour varies from yellow through red and dark purple, depending on which variety you choose. Sweet dessert varieties of plum, for example, such as Denniston’s Superb and the standard Victoria are perfect for eating raw, however plums can be cooked and used in a whole range of different ways. They can be halved and roasted, poached whole, stewed or made into crumbles and pies. 

It’s no doubt the versatility of this classic British fruit is the reason for its longevity.  

Did you know?

  • Plums are a member of the rose family, which also includes peaches, apricots and sloes.
  • While damsons and greengages are technically both types of plums, the term ‘plum’ usually denotes varieties that are sweet enough to be eaten raw.
  • More than 100 varieties of plum stones were found on Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose, which sank in 1545.
  • A medium fresh plum contains 113mg of potassium, which helps manage high blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.

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