A yellow, green, red or purple stone fruit, plums selected for eating should be ripe but not soft, wrinkled or blemished. Fruits with a very slight matt white bloom on the surface give the sign that they have not been roughly handled.
Picked from July to September when ripe for eating, the plum also has numerous uses in patisserie, confectionery and as a dried fruit. Once plums are dried, they become known as prunes.
Mainly grown in south-west France, there are also many plum orchards in Britain. Imported varieties are available all year round.
IN THE KITCHEN
There are many types of plums - over 2,000 - so choose depending on your cooking technique. Usually baked or poached, if you want to remove the skin blanch the plum in boiling water for 30 seconds first. Then run under cold water before peeling.
The common damson plum works well for jam-making. This traditional English preparation is a very thick damson pulp, boiled with sugar, which stores well and is served with biscuits or used to fill tartlets.
If you're eating fresh and the plum has been refrigerated, allow to reach room temperature before eating for a more juicy fruit.