School supplies are on sale, school buses are out and about and there’s a nip in the air! School is in full swing… and so is the Sierra Harvest Farm to School program! Farm to School provides Harvest of the Month tastings of seasonal featured produce each month throughout the school year in nearly 300 classrooms. Additionally, this popular program provides school garden carts with produce from local growers, field trips to local farms, Tasting Week featuring hands on cooking with guest chefs, farmer visits in the classroom as well as a plant sale in the spring at 22 schools in Western Nevada County.
This month, 6,700 students tasted “Flavor Finale” Plums from Homegrown Organic Farms in Kingsburg, CA. Homegrown Organic Farms is a cooperative of 80 farms about 250 miles south of our area, specializing in organic fruit since 1998. Here’s what they have to say, “Founded on our pledge of stewardship to properly care for the land, we believe in returning what the soil abundantly provides. This requires an uncompromising commitment to safe food and a quality expectation that’s second-to-none. And it means we only offer to you what we trust to our own families.”
Here are some plum facts to get you in the mood for this delicious seasonal treat:
- Plums are a stone fruit tree of the Rose family. Plum trees produce white flowers with 1 to 5 clusters and each flower has five petals.
- The plum is a drupe (pronounced droop) fruit which is a pitted fruit just like nectarines, peaches, and apricots. There are various different varieties of plums and they come in colors from ranging from yellow and orange to red or purple.
- In the United States alone, there are more than 140 varieties of Plums sold.
- There are two main species of plums: Prunus salcina and Prunus domestica. Prunus salcina, or Japanese plums, are the most widely grown type. Plums of the species Prunus domestica are known as European plums. In California, most European plum varieties are grown for use as dried plums…the ever delicious prune…sweet, chewy bites that are oh so good for the body.
- Early colonists brought the European plum, Prunus domestica, to America and pioneers traveled West with it during the Gold Rush. Soon after the Gold Rush, the dried plum industry arose in California.
- California grown plums are in peak season during the summer and are usually available from May to October. You can eat fresh plums straight from the tree or chop them up and put them in a fruit salad. Plums can also be used to make sauces, jams, and fruit desserts or can be dried into delicious prunes.
- Plums even make their appearance by buddying up with the delicious apricot. A “plumcot” is 50% plum and 50% apricot. An “aprium” is 75% apricot and 25% plum. A “pluot” is 75% plum and 25% apricot.
- Plums are filled with Vitamin C, and fiber. They also help the body to uptake iron and help to lower cholesterol.
- On a fun note of interest…there are 2,300 people in the U.S. listed on whitepages.com with the last name ‘Plum’!
Plums are delicious to eat raw as a snack, but they also shine in desserts or atop a seasonal salad. One classic condiment in asian dishes is plum sauce, which is quick and easy. Or try this unique dessert from Cooking Light that will be great for the unexpected hot days that are not quite over!
Basil Plum Granita
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 whole allspice
1 1/2 pounds black plums, quartered and pitted
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3/4 cup basil leaves
- Place first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 15 minutes or until plums begin to fall apart, stirring occasionally. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl; cool completely, stirring occasionally. Discard allspice.
- Place the plum mixture, lime juice, and basil in a blender; process until well blended. Press the plum mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl, and discard solids. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish. Cover and freeze until partially frozen (about 2 hours). Scrape with a fork, crushing any lumps. Freeze for 3 hours, scraping with a fork every hour, or until completely frozen.