How to Store Plums

Storing plums properly is essential to maintaining their quality and freshness.

Knowing when and how to store your plums will ensure that you get the most out of this juicy fruit, whether you’ve brought them home underripe or perfectly ripe.

Underripe plums can be left at room temperature to ripen, typically taking a few days to achieve their optimal sweetness and texture.

Plums placed in a single layer on a flat surface, away from direct sunlight, at room temperature

Once plums become ripe, their shelf life shortens, so to preserve their peak ripeness, you should transfer them to the refrigerator.

This helps slow down the ripening process and can extend their freshness for a little longer.

Be sure to place them in the fridge gently to avoid bruising, which can lead to quicker spoilage.

For longer-term storage, plums can be frozen, which will significantly extend their usability.

To freeze plums, first wash, dry, and cut them into wedges, removing the pit.

Then, spread them out on a cookie sheet to freeze individually before transferring them into a freezer bag or container to prevent them from sticking together.

Labeling the bag with the date will help you keep track of how long they’ve been stored.

Frozen plums are great for smoothies or compotes when you’re ready to use them.

Selecting Quality Plums

To guarantee the best plums for your pantry, it’s important to understand how to discern ripeness and avoid those with any quality-compromising blemishes.

Identifying Ripe Plums

When selecting ripe plums, you’re looking for fruits that give a little to the touch, indicating ripeness.

However, plums should still be fairly firm, avoiding those that are overly soft, as they may be overripe.

A ripe plum will typically have a deep, even color whether it’s a red, deep purple, or another hue specific to the plum variety.

For instance, a ripe ‘Mirabelle’ may present a vibrant yellow, while a ‘Satsuma’ might be a rich red.

  • Look for plums with a uniform color that’s characteristic of their variety.
  • Gently press the plum. It should have a subtle give without feeling mushy.

Avoiding Damage and Blemishes

Inspect the plums for any blemishes, soft spots, or signs of bruising, which can spoil the fruit more quickly.

Check the area around the stems as this can be an indicator of handling and storage conditions.

Healthy skins are a sign of a good plum, so select ones that are smooth without punctures or cuts.

  • Examine the entire surface of the plum, including around the stem.
  • Avoid plums with visible soft spots, bruises, or breaks in the skin.

Storing Plums at Home

Plums arranged in a single layer on a tray, kept in a cool, dark place. Some plums are ripening in a bowl nearby

Proper storage of plums can greatly extend their freshness and flavor. Whether you leave them at room temperature, refrigerate, or freeze them depends on their ripeness and how soon you plan to use them.

Room Temperature Storage

For plums that aren’t fully ripe, store them at room temperature on the counter, away from direct sunlight.

A cool spot helps avoid over-ripening.

Temperature between 55-65°F (13-18°C) is ideal for slowing down the ripening process without risking the plums turning to mush.

To hasten ripening, place unripe plums in a paper bag; the bag traps the ethylene gas they emit, which accelerates ripening. Check on them daily.

  • Tip: Keep away from ethylene-producing fruits in the fruit bowl to prevent premature ripening.

Refrigerating Plums

Once your plums reach desired ripeness, refrigerate them to preserve that state.

Store ripe plums in the refrigerator, preferably in the crisper drawer, where the environment is more humid and temperatures are steadier.

Refrigerating plums can extend their edibility for up to four days.

  • Tip: Do not wash the plums before refrigerating; moisture can lead to deterioration.

Freezing Plums

If you wish to preserve plums for months, freezing is an excellent option.

Wash, dry, cut into wedges, and remove the pits.

Arrange the wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag or airtight container.

Label the container with the date before placing it back in the freezer.

  • Note: Frozen plums last for up to 10-12 months and are perfect for jams, sauces, and baked goods.

Ripening and Usage Tips

Plums ripen on a tree branch, surrounded by green leaves. Store in a cool, dry place. Avoid direct sunlight to maintain freshness

To achieve the best flavor and texture, it’s important to understand how to ripen plums effectively and use them at their peak.

Here’s how you can encourage even ripening, prepare plums for consumption, and utilize them when they’re overripe.

Encouraging Even Ripening

  • Store Unripe Plums in a Paper Bag: If your plums are not yet ripe, you can place them in a brown paper bag at room temperature. The bag traps ethylene gas, naturally emitted by plums, which speeds up the ripening process.
  • Check Regularly: Check your plums daily. Once they start to soften, they are nearing ripeness.
  • Separate Damaged Fruit: Remove any plums that show signs of damage as they may damage other fruits or lead to faster spoilage.

Preparing Plums for Consumption

  • Washing: Always wash your plums before eating them to remove any surface dirt or residues. Only wash right before consumption to prevent any potential spoilage.
  • Cutting: To pit a plum, cut along the seam, twist to open, and remove the pit. This technique preserves the plum’s structure and texture.

Utilizing Overripe Plums

  • Make Plum Jam: Overripe plums are perfect for making plum jam because their sugar content is higher, which will sweeten the jam naturally.
  • Bake or Cook: Use the sweetened, softened texture to your advantage in various recipes, such as desserts, sauces, or compotes.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

A bowl of fresh plums sits on a kitchen counter next to a piece of paper with "Health Benefits and Nutritional Information" written on it. Nearby, a refrigerator door is open, showing plums stored inside

Plums are not only a delicious fruit but also a powerhouse of nutrients with numerous health benefits. Your body can gain a variety of vitamins and minerals from these juicy fruits.

Nutritional Components of Plums

NutrientAmount (per medium-sized plum, approx. 66g)
Calories30 kcal
Dietary Fiber1g
Vitamin A5% of Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin C10% DV
Vitamin KContribution to DV
PotassiumContribution to DV

A medium-sized plum contributes significant amounts of vitamins A and C, providing antioxidants that are crucial for your skin health and immune function.

Despite their small size, plums pack a punch with essential nutrients without adding a heavy caloric load to your diet.

Health Impacts of Consuming Plums

The health benefits of plums are diverse:

  • Fiber: High in fiber, consuming plums can aid in your digestive health, particularly in preventing constipation.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: The presence of vitamins A, C, and K, alongside important minerals such as potassium, supports various bodily functions, including maintaining healthy eyesight, protecting against immune deficiencies, and contributing to bone health.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Antioxidant-rich plums have been linked to reducing inflammation and protecting against conditions caused by oxidative stress.
  • Cardiovascular Health: While direct evidence concerning plums and stroke risk is not explicitly highlighted, the potassium found in plums plays a role in managing blood pressure levels, which is a factor in stroke risk reduction.

Special Considerations for Plum Storage

When storing plums, you should handle them delicately to prevent bruising and consider the best methods for long-term preservation to maintain their flavor and texture.

Plums arranged in single layer on paper towel in open container. Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Check for ripeness daily

Handling Bruised or Damaged Plums

If you encounter plums that are already bruised or show signs of damage, it’s crucial to separate them from your other plums. Bruised plums release ethylene gas, which triggers ripening in nearby fruit.

To prevent further softening or spoilage, store these plums in the refrigerator and use them promptly, ideally in making plum chutney or plum liqueur, where texture is less critical.

Avoid storing damaged fruits with unripe ones:

  • Unripe plums: can ripen too quickly if stored near damaged ones.
  • Ripe plums: are soft and plump; store separately to avoid the spread of bruising.
  • Damaged plums: consider processing them into jam or baked goods.

Ensuring Long-Term Plum Preservation

Plums are perishable and require correct conditions for extended storage.

Refrigerating plums is effective for short-term storage, especially for the Japanese variety, which is particularly tender and prone to bruising.

  • Temperature range: Keep them between 32°F (0°C) and 41°F (5°C) to slow ripening.
  • Humidity levels: Maintain moderate humidity to prevent plums from drying out.

For long-term storage, freezing plums is your best option.

You may freeze whole plums or prepare them first by pitting and then slicing. To freeze plums:

  1. Lay plum slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Freeze until solid, then transfer to airtight, labeled bags or containers.
  3. Return them to the freezer where they can last for months.

Remember, thawed plums will be soft and are best used in cooked dishes or smoothies.

Creative Ways to Enjoy Plums

Exploring the versatility of plums in your kitchen can transform the way you enjoy this juicy fruit. Whether baked into desserts or condensed into homemade preserves, ripe plums offer a sweet and tangy flavor that enriches a variety of recipes.

Cooking and Baking with Plums

Incorporating ripe plums into your cooking and baking endeavors provides a naturally sweet and slightly tart taste that can complement many dishes. Use plums to add a juicy burst of flavor in the following ways:

  • Pies and Tarts: Slice ripe plums and lay them into a pastry shell, sprinkling with sugar to sweeten. Bake until the crust is golden and plums are tender.
  • Savory Sauces: Enhance meat dishes with a plum sauce. Cook down the plums with a touch of sugar and spice to create a flavorful accompaniment.
  • Breakfast Items: Add chopped plums to pancakes or muffins for a fruity addition that will brighten your morning.

Making Plum Preserves

Transform your ripe plums into long-lasting preserves with these methods:

  • Plum Jam: Simmer chopped plums with sugar on the stove until thickened. Pour the hot jam into sterilized jars and seal for future use.
  • Plum Chutney: Combine plums with onions, vinegar, and spices to create a tangy chutney that pairs perfectly with cheese or curry.
  • Plum Liqueur: Soak sliced plums in alcohol with a bit of sugar to create a flavorful plum liqueur that can be enjoyed on its own or in cocktails.

Final Tips for Plum Storage

Plums arranged in a single layer on a flat surface, with stems intact. A breathable cover is placed over the plums to protect them from moisture and allow for air circulation

When storing plums, it’s paramount to consider ripeness.

Ripe plums should be stored in the refrigerator, which prolongs freshness by slowing down further ripening. Use your refrigerator’s crisper drawer if possible, as it provides the ideal environment for maintaining quality.

If your plums are unripe, you can leave them at room temperature on the countertop. To expedite ripening, place them in a paper bag. Once ripe, transfer them to the refrigerator.

In the event you have an abundance of plums, especially during the summer season, freezing is an excellent way to preserve their quality. Here’s a quick guide to freezing plums:

Wash and DryClean your plums thoroughly and allow them to dry.
Pit and SliceRemove the pits and cut the plums into wedges.
Flash FreezeLay the slices on a baking sheet and freeze until solid.
StoreTransfer the frozen slices to a freezer bag or container.
LabelClearly mark the date on the bag or container.

Frozen plums can be kept for up to a year and are perfect for making jams, sauces, or baked treats.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section addresses common inquiries about storing plums, providing you with practical tips to ensure your fruit remains fresh and delicious.

What is the best way to preserve plums during winter?

To preserve plums during winter, keep them at a temperature between 0-5°C (32-41°F). This cool environment prevents them from ripening too quickly and maintains their freshness for longer.

Can plums be frozen for long-term storage and how?

Yes, plums can be frozen for long-term storage. Start by washing and cutting them into wedges, then lay them on a cookie sheet to freeze individually. Once frozen, transfer the wedges to a food storage bag or container and store in the freezer.

What are the signs of a ripe plum ready for storage?

Ripe plums feel slightly soft when gently pressed and may exhibit a deep, even color. Their skin remains intact without bruising. These are good indicators that plums are ripe and ready for storage.

How can plums and peaches be stored together effectively?

Plums and peaches can be stored together effectively by keeping them in a cool, ventilated space, and not directly touching to prevent ethylene gas from accelerating ripening. Both fruits should be monitored regularly for signs of over-ripening.

What are the shelf life differences between refrigerated and counter-stored plums?

Refrigerated plums can last between 1-2 weeks, whereas counter-stored plums are best consumed within a few days after reaching ripeness. The cool temperature in the refrigerator slows down the ripening process, extending their shelf life.

What is the proper technique for ripening hard plums?

To ripen hard plums, place them in a paper bag at room temperature. The bag traps ethylene gas, promoting faster ripening.

Check the plums daily to ensure they don’t over-ripen.

Follow Us
Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
Follow Us
Latest posts by Cassie Marshall (see all)