Plums are sweet, tart, juicy…and extremely perishable. Yes, indeed—this sexy summer stone fruit can make you swoon when perfectly ripe, or just plain sad when you’ve missed the boat. Here, a guide on how to store plums, so you never again have to see one go to waste.
How to Store Plums so That You Can Make the Most Out of This Sweet and Tart Summer Fruit
1. Pick The Best Plums
Whether you’re picking through plums in the produce aisle or at the farmer’s market, it’s important to make sure you bring home the very best. Needless to say, you should avoid plums that have visible bruises (i.e., discoloration or soft spots). Next, determine how quickly you plan on eating the plums: If you are going to make short work of them, you should seek out ripe fruit, but if it’s going to take you a few days to eat them or you’re buying a large quantity it might make sense to buy a mix of both ripe and unripe fruit.
So how can you tell if a plum is ripe? According to the Michigan Plum Growers Association, “plums that ‘give’ slightly when gently pressed with the side of your thumb are at peak eating enjoyment,” whereas fruit that feels completely firm to the touch will need more time to ripen. (Psst: Plums that give more than just a little are overripe, and are best reserved for use in smoothies or baked goods.)
2. Store Unripe Plums At Room Temperature
Plums that are firm to the touch will reach peak ripeness in a matter of days when stored at room temperature—just be sure to keep them away from intense, direct sunlight, lest they go straight from unripe to rotten. If you’re feeling impatient, you can accelerate the ripening process by storing unripe plums in a loosely closed paper bag on the countertop for one to two days. The paper bag will trap the ethylene gas emitted by the plums, causing them to ripen faster (so we suggest you check on them regularly).
3. Keep Ripe Plums Away From The Fruit Bowl
As previously mentioned, plums that are fragrant and yield slightly to the side of your thumb are ripe and ready to eat. Don’t waste any time, friends—ripe plums stored at room temperature will continue to ripen, which means they’ll turn into unappetizing mush if you don’t move fast. It’s also worth noting that, though it might be aesthetically pleasing, a fruit bowl is not the best place to pile your ripe plums, as they can easily become bruised when stored in this fashion. Instead, try stashing them in an open egg carton, so each plum is safely nestled in a place of its own.
4. Or Store Them In The Fridge
Never put an unripe plum in the fridge, as it will not ripen there, and the cold climate can damage its taste and texture. Even ripe plums lose a little of their je ne sais quoi when stored in the fridge. Nevertheless, the ice box is the best solution if you need a little more time to eat your perfectly ripened plums. When storing ripe plums in the fridge, keep them away from other fruits—again, the ethylene gas will cause them to continue ripening—and heavy items that might bruise them. Once stored in the fridge, ripe plums should be consumed within three to four days.