Did You Know?

Plums (Prunus subgenus Prunus) are related to a very large family of stone fruits including peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, and almonds (we eat the seed, not the flesh of the almond}.  Botanically, the fruit is known as a drupe.  Plums are thought to be one of the earliest domesticated fruits to be cultivated along with olives, grapes, and figs.  Plums are also related to members of the rose family and produce an abundance of white, sweet-smelling flowers that bees love.

Types of Plums

There are native North American plums which can be quite ornamental, but most have relatively small and tart fruit best suited for jams and jellies.  Many European varieties are free stone – the flesh easily separates from the stone – making them the best choice for dried plums (prunes).  Sadly, most European varieties don’t do well in our area.  Asian and Asian – American cross plums are the varieties most often grown for fresh fruit and will do best in our area especially if grafted to native rootstock. Most plum varieties are not self-fruitful and require another variety to pollinate and set fruit.  Chill hours are very important in determining which plums will do well in any climate.   For our area, Methley (self-fruitful), Bruce, Burbank and Santa Rosa usually do well.

When to Plant

Plum trees are deciduous (dormant in winter) and best planted in late fall through winter giving the roots the longest time to get established before the stress of summer sets in.  Plums are usually pruned to an open scaffold shape.  Young unbranched trees should be cut back to about 30 inches to encourage initial branching at that point.  Trees that already are branched should be pruned to remove all but 3 to 4 main scaffold branches.  Pruning will continue every year to maintain an open vase-like shape.

Harvest and Storage

It is best to remove all fruit from the youngest trees to encourage the tree to focus growth on leaves, roots, and branches.  In subsequent years fruit should be thinned to a 3 to 4 inch spacing.  Often this will require removing 80% or more of the immature fruit as plums tend to highly over fruit.  Leaving too much fruit on the tree can result in very small fruit, broken limbs and damage to the trees’ health.  Allowing the fruit to fully ripen on the tree results in the highest sugar content as well flavor.  Fruit color as well as softness are indicators of ripeness.  Taste testing specific varieties will further define the best time to harvest.  Plums that are not fully ripened can be stored at room temperature to complete ripening.  Fully ripened fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.  For long term storage, pitted plums can be frozen, dried, or made into preserves.  Plum wine is also an option if you have an abundance of fruit.

By:  Michael Vidrine

Plum Tart

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 1 tart


  • 1 sheet puff pastry thawed
  • 4 plums pitted and sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp Messina Hof Blushing Angel
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom optional
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter cubed
  • 1 egg whisked together with 1 tbsp of water


  • Prepare your plums by quartering them, removing the pit and then slicing each quarter in to three even slices. Place them in a large bowl.
  • Add the sugar, Blushing Angel, flour, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, thyme, and salt and toss gently until all of the plums are coated. They will start to become syrupy. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Place your puff pastry on a parchment lined sheet pan. Using a large bowl, place the bowl upside down on the puff pastry and trim around it, creating a circle.
  • Place your plums in the center of the circle of dough and use a spoon to spread it out to about two inches from the edge. You can just pile them up in there or you can arrange them in a fan pattern starting from the center. Don’t let the plums cover the last two inches of the dough.
  • Fold the edges of the dough towards the center, just covering the edges of the fruit and leaving much of the fruit exposed. If you have difficulty getting the dough to come up off the parchment, bend the parchment up and use a knife to assist you getting the dough off.
  • Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar over the top of the exposed fruit.
  • Drop the little cubes of butter over the top of the fruit.
  • Brush the top of the crust with the egg wash, then sprinkle the crust with some sugar.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes until it’s golden brown and the fruit is cooked.
  • Remove from oven and carefully transfer the parchment paper with the galette to a cooling rack and let cool.


RECIPE BY: Ezekiel Reissig

Wine Pairings for Dishes with Plums

as recommended by Karen Bonarrigo & Merrill Bonarrigo

  • Plums are more of a texture and taste food rather than flavor. They can be sweet to tart, have a waxy surface and crisp meaty texture. 
  • Different plums have different flavors that range from a woody lemon to apple. It is easier to look at what ingredients complement plums to determine which wine to pair.
  • Foods that tend to be paired with plums are: almonds, hazelnuts, black pepper, vanilla, ginger, raspberries, other stone fruits, medium weight meats like chicken, pork and duck.
  • Fresh plums have a crisp acid that needs a sweet or crisper wine to balance. Wines like Grenache, Sangiovese or Merlot go better with the lighter crisper plums. The black ripe plums and cooked plums (prunes) go best with wines like Malbec or Tempranillo.
  • In the Plum Tarte Tatin recipe, the sweet dessert flavors marry beautifully with wines like Sherry or Tawny Port.
  • Recommended wines:
    o Messina Hof Blushing Angel
    o Messina Hof Artist Series Sangiovese (dry red wine with tart cherry flavors)
    o Messina Hof Solera Sherry (sweet wine with vanilla and dried fig flavors)

Merrill and Karen Bonarrigo, Wine and Food Pairing experts at Messina Hof Wine Cellars, Inc.

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