Fresh locally grown plums are available only for a couple of months every year. And when they’re in season, they’re cheap, so it’s tempting to go overboard when buying.
But before you take advantage of those prices, make sure you know all the basics about storage, shelf life, and spoilage of plums. If you need a quick brush up on those, you’re in the right place, as this article covers precisely those topics.
Let’s dive in.
How To Tell If a Plum Is Ripe
Before we talk about storage, you need to know if the plums you have are fully ripened, or not. There are two factors you need to take into account when checking your plums for ripeness. These are:
- Color. Plums develop their color as they ripen. Blue plums go from green to greenish-blue, then to dark blue. Purple plums go through a similar path, but end up purple instead of blue (ISU).
- Firmness. Similar to avocado, unripe plums are firm to the touch. Over time they soften, especially near the tip (ISU). That’s also the time they get their smell.
All in all, a ripe plum is one that has its characteristic color, smells like a plum, and is slightly tender.
How To Store Plums
Now that you know how to tell if your plums are ripe or not storing them is quite easy.
Unripe plums should sit at room temperature until ripe (CACFP). Leave them on the countertop (not in direct sunlight, though) or in the pantry and let them ripen. One or twice a day, give them a quick check on whether or not they’re ready to yet.
If you want to speed up the ripening process, put the plums in a paper bag. That will trap the ethylene that they produce, and make the fruits ripen faster.
Once the plums are ripe, you should transfer them into the fridge (CACFP, FK).
Keeping them in a plastic bag in the produce drawer is a popular solution, but the most important thing is to keep them away from any smelly food products.
Remember to wash these fruits thoroughly before eating (CACFP).
How Long Do Plums Last
Unripe plums usually take 1 – 2 days to ripen (FK), but if yours are still super firm after those two days, give them a bit more time. If you need to speed up the ripening process, there’s a tip for that in the storage section.
Once the plums are ripe, they keep quality for about 3 to 5 days (CACFP, FK) in the fridge. If you’re lucky, they can probably last for up to a week in good quality.
If you leave ripe plums at room temperature, they deteriorate much faster and turn soft within a couple of days.
|Unripe plums||Until ripe (usually 2 – 3 days)|
|Ripe plums||2 – 3 days||3 – 5 days|
As usual, please remember that these periods are only estimates.
How To Tell If Plums Are Bad?
When checking plums for spoilage, make sure you:
- Look for any visual signs of deterioration. Those include mold (especially near the stem) and shriveled skin. The latter doesn’t mean the fruit is spoiled per se, but that it’s old and most likely won’t taste anywhere like a delicious fresh plum.
- Check the firmness of the fruit. If the plums are super soft, or even oozing juice, it’s time for them to go.
- Check for worms or larvae inside. Make sure always to halve the plum and remove the pit before eating. This way, you make sure the insides are free of any insects. Eating the whole thing and spitting out the pit is never a good idea when it comes to plums.
- ISU Iowa State University Extension: Harvesting and Storing Tree Fruit
- CACFP Child and Adult Care Food Program: How to select store and use locally grown fruits
- FK FoodKeeper App: Peaches Nectarines Plums Pears Sapote