70726thumbIs a prune really just a dried plum? No! A plum is really a prune. In fact, all ‘stone fruit’ are of the same prune genus known as Prunus. This means that apricot, cherry, peach, nectarine, prune, plum and even almond are all related. So are all their weird and trendy hybrids, such as aprium, pluots, plumcots and so on. (Almonds are the pits or ‘stones’ of dry leathery fruits that fall away as hulls.)

The main difference between prunes and plums is that prunes contain enough sugar to inhibit mold while they dry, . . . if they dry efficiently enough. Plums are juicier and contain less sugar, so are more likely to mold before they dry. If dried in a dehydrator, plums get squishy, and are likely to develop an odd flavor. Most prunes are European. Most popular plums are of Japanese descent.

The wrinkly and leathery fruit that most of us know as prunes are actually ‘dried’ prunes. Fresh prunes can be eaten just like plums, but are firmer, and have milder flavor. They are better for juicing, canning (whole, while firm) and cooking, although plums make better jam. Plums have richer flavor for eating fresh. Because they are so soft, they do not juice as well, but make nice plum nectar.

Apricots are not quite as easy to dry as prunes are. They must either be dried quickly in a dehydrator of some sort, or sulfured; and sulfuring is probably too much work for most of us. Most of the apriums, pluots, plumcots and other weird apricot hybrids that have become so trendy in the past many years are too soft for drying or canning. Like plums, peaches and nectarines, fresh is best.

Fruit that ripens evenly throughout the tree is best for canning, freezing, drying or any technique that takes large volumes of fruit at once. Uneven ripening is better for fruit eaten fresh. It allows later fruit to continue ripening while the earliest fruit is being consumed. The problem is that the best stone fruits ripen very evenly, all at the same time. If not shared with neighbors, some is sure to rot.

If some of the fruit ripens later than the rest, it will be inside the shadiest part of the canopy. The most exposed fruit on the exterior of the canopy ripens first, and for most types of fruit, has the best flavor. After all fruit is harvested from a tree, any remaining bad fruit should be removed from the tree, and from the ground around the tree. Diseases proliferate, and later overwinter in rotting fruit.

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10 thoughts on “Enjoy The Fruits Of Summer

    1. They are not meant to be looked at. They are meant to be eaten.
      The prune blossom is the town flower of Campbell, just north of Los Gatos. The apricot blossom was one of the choices for our town flower. The peach blossom was also considered. (Cat tails are still my favorite choice for town flower. Apricot tree can be our town tree.)

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  1. I love dried peaches with a passion but in recent years they have been much harder to get hold of over here. I’d agree that quality can be variable, but the best are sweet, sour, dry and tender all in one. I do know of a good mail order supplier, which reminds me, I ought to place an order!

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    1. Peaches were relatively uncommon in the Santa Clara Valley. However, one of the subdivided buildings downtown was a cannery for peaches! They also canned other fruits as well. I really do not remember the peaches. They were cling peaches. i still do not know the advantages of cling peaches, but perhaps they can better.

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  2. Not in a great region for peach trees ( although we have some) and I would love a source for apricots…fresh or dried. Much of the fruit we grow or gather, get frozen for winter use. Our local Co-op sources organic peaches from Jersey every year and we always purchase a case or two. Right now I am busy making fruited shrubs ( and herbal mocktail /cocktail class coming up). Shrubs are a colonial drink made with apple cider vinegar, fruit, and sweetener…for this we use our own maple syrup. Quite yummy and restorative. Now, all day, I will think about an apricot shrub!

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    1. All of us who grew up in the Santa Clara Valley developed a taste aversion to apricot. However, we all strive to grow at least one of the apricot trees in our gardens. We just give the fruit away. I do not remember anyone making a shrub with apricot. They are mostly made with cane berries. Apricots and other stone fruits make nice cordials, but that is a completely different animal.

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      1. Love the flavor of apricots and would probably go ahead and stretch things, throw the flesh into the blender with some vinegar and maple syrup and add it to drinks ( mostly seltzer on a hot day). Of course, growing up my gram always had a nice bottle of apricot brandy stashed away just for her apricot brandy pound cake. Here I still use dried apricots in baking, no aversion yet but probably not eating enough of them! Hope your gardening season is going well…we don’t seem to be slowing down a bit here. Really enjoy your posts and thank you, Tony , for your responses.

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      2. One does not develop an aversion from eating ‘enough’ apricots. The aversion develops from eating ‘too much’! ICK! There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing. . . . although I do miss the orchards.

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  3. Suffice it to say I never again will allow apricot brandy to pass my lips. That drink was part of a college lesson that wasn’t included in the formal curriculum.

    We’ve been in the heart of Texas peach season for a few weeks now. There aren’t many grown successfully here at the coast, but I’m lucky enough to have a nearby farmers’ market which includes a farm from three hours north, and their peaches are delicious. I’ve been freezing them, along with blueberries, and will continue on until the fruit’s no longer available or the freezer is full.

    They have apricots, as well, and every year I buy some, just to give them another chance. But I always wonder why I did. I enjoy a good dried apricot, but the fresh just don’t do it for me. On the other hand, our wild plums are worth searching for. The flavor is superb in a good year.

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    1. When we were kids, we got apricots in every form imaginable; jam, nectar, pie, cobbler, stewed, and even apricot upside-down cake. We all got tired of them. However, we all want to grow an apricot tree in our gardens . . . and then give the fruit away to neighbors who are not from here. Although I have never made apricot brandy, and do not drink alcohol anyway, my former neighbor and I used to make cordials with them and other stone fruits as they became available. I am not sure if ‘cordial’ is the correct term. They were pitted stone fruits pressed down under a clear type of liquor. I suppose they are normally made with brandy, but I do not know. They were very good, like chocolate covered cherries without the chocolate.

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