A plum or gage is a stone fruit tree in the genus Prunus, subgenus Prunus. The subgenus is distinguished from other subgenera (peaches, cherries, bird cherries, etc) in the shoots having a terminal bud and the side buds solitary (not clustered), the flowers being grouped 1-5 together on short stems, and the fruit having a groove running down one side, and a smooth stone.
The fruit may have a dusty-white coating that is easily rubbed off — this is an epicuticular wax coating on mature plum fruit gives them a glaucous appearance.
Plum fruit tastes sweet and/or tart; the skin may be particularly tart. It is juicy and can be eaten fresh or used in jam-making or other recipes. Plum juice can be fermented into plum wine; when distilled, this produces a brandy known in Eastern Europe as Slivovitz, Rakia, Tzuica or Palinka. Dried plums are also known simply as prunes, as if ‘prune’ signified merely a dried plum – however, prunes are a distinct type of plum, and may have predated the fruits that we know more commonly as plums. Prunes are also sweet and juicy and contain several antioxidants. Plums and prunes are known for their laxative effect. This effect has been attributed to various compounds present in the fruits, such as dietary fiber, sorbitol, and isatin. Prunes and prune juice are often used to help regulate the functioning of the digestive system.
As with many other members of the rose family, plum seeds contain cyanogenetic glycosides, including amygdalin. These substances are capable of decomposing into a sugar molecule and hydrogen cyanide gas. While plum seeds are not the most toxic within the rose family, that dubious honor going to the bitter almond, large doses of these chemicals from any source are hazardous to human health.
Dried prune marketers in the United States have, in recent years, begun marketing their product as “dried plums.” This is due to “prune” having negative connotations connected with elderly people suffering from constipation.
Various flavors of dried plum are available at Chinese grocers and specialty stores worldwide. They tend to be much drier than the standard prune. Cream, Ginsing, Spicy, and Salty are among the common varieties. Licorice is generally used to intensify the flavor of these plums and is used to make salty plum drinks and toppings for Shaved Ice or bobbing.
Pickled plums are another type of preserve available in Asia and international specialty stores. The Japanese variety, called umeboshi, is often used for rice balls, called “Onigiri” or “Omusubi.” The ume, from which umeboshi are made, is however more closely related to the apricot than to the plum.
Prune kernel oil is made from the fleshy inner part of the pit of the plum.
Plums come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Some are much firmer-fleshed than others and some have yellow, white, green or red flesh, with equally varying skin color.
Aalu Bukharay ki chutney (Plum Sauce)