Do Plums Ripen Off the Tree?

By: The Hale Groves Team | On: | Category: Fruit Facts Healthy Eating

Apples and pears might be the first fruits to come to mind when you think of autumn, but no fall fruit basket would be complete without fresh, juicy plums!

After apples, plums are the world’s most cultivated fruit, and no wonder – plums (like Empress Plums from Hale Groves) are plump, sweet, and a treat when eaten fresh, made into a decadent jelly or jam to spread over your morning toast, baked in a flaky pie or sliced into a late summer salad.

If you tend to avoid plums when you go to the grocery story to buy fresh fruit, it’s probably because you’ve never tried one when it was properly ripened. Plums are amazing, but there’s no doubt that an unripe plum is super-sour – and biting into one is anything but a pleasant experience!

Enjoying Plums at Their Best

When buying fruit online, its ripeness depends on when it was harvested. When you order fruit like oranges, grapefruit and other citrus varieties from Hale Groves, you can be sure that it was plucked from the tree at its peak of ripeness so you can enjoy it right away.

Ordering fruit with a stone in it (like peaches, nectarines, and pears) can be a bit different. Like other stone fruits, plums complete their ripening cycle off the tree, which is why they are typically picked when still firm. In order to enjoy plums at their best, you should store them on the counter at room temperature until they’ve ripened fully. You will know that’s happened when the plums smell sweet and “give” slightly with gentle squeezing.

How long does it take an unripe plum to ripen off the tree?

If you store your unripe plums at room temperature (away from sunlight and heat sources so they don’t spoil), they should ripen fully in about four days, depending on how firm they were when you got them.

You can speed up the process by storing the plums in a paper bag on the counter. This works because, as they ripen, plums give off ethylene gas. The bag traps the gas to speed up the ripening process while still allowing air to flow through. If you use this method, be sure to check the plums every day so they don’t overripen.

Storing Ripe Plums in the Refrigerator

For best flavor, enjoy your plums as soon as possible after they’ve fully ripened. If you can’t enjoy them right away, store them in the refrigerator to prevent spoiling. Keep in mind, however, that exposure to cooler temperatures will affect their taste and texture.

Once ripe, refrigerate plums as necessary to prevent spoiling, but cold temperatures may change their texture and taste.

Preserving Plums to Enjoy Later

If you receive a couple of fall fruit baskets or boxes with more plums than you can eat or share, no worries – flash freeze them to enjoy later! Here are the steps:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Slice the plums into smaller pieces and place them on the lined baking sheet (for best results, spread out so they aren’t touching).
  3. Place the tray in a freezer until the plums feel hard (about half an hour).
  4. Transfer plums to a reusable container or baggie and return to the freezer.

Frozen plums keep in the freezer for at least six months. Use them to make smoothies, jams, sauces, chutneys or jam later (just be sure to defrost them first).
Enjoy your plums!

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