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July 20, 2007

How do I know it’s plum season? The purple splotches on my grandparents’ otherwise pristine driveway tell the story. Throughout the month of July, anyone who sets foot in my grandma’s kitchen will be handed an empty bag and directed to the plum tree. It’s a family tradition.

If you don’t have a plum tree in your life, you might see signs at the office: the ubiquitous pile of purple fruit in the kitchen just begs to be taken. Go ahead, take 5 or 10. There are 50 more where that came from.

But do it quickly. Plums are plentiful and inexpensive (or free!) right now, but they’ll be thinning out soon. If you’re picking them right off the tree, here’s a tip: Pull gently on the darkest plum you see; if it clings to the stem, leave it. A perfectly ripe plum actually feels like it wants to be picked. At the store, look for dark plums that are plump and firm in your hand, but not hard. 

If you’re looking for some new things to do with those dark lovelies, bake up our beautiful Rustic Plum Tart. I also strongly recommend this recipe for a sweet-tart Plum Soup. And if you really want to get fancy, serve the soup with Basil Gelato. July is a great time for fresh basil too.

—Elizabeth Turner, editor in chief

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