There are few fruits that come in such a panorama of colors as the juicy sweet tasting plum. The plum season extends with the Japanese varieties first on the market from May and peaking in August followed by the European varieties in the fall through October. One of the unique things about plums is that there are so many varieties available. Not only do over 2,000 varieties of plums exist but over 100 are available in the U.S. alone. The skins of plums can be red, purple, blue-black, red, green, yellow or amber, while their flesh comes in hues such as yellow, green, pink and red ‘ a virtual rainbow. With the large number of plums available, it is not surprising that the various types have different heritages and places of origin. The European plum is thought to have been discovered around 2,000 years ago, originating near the Caspian Sea. They made their way across the Atlantic Ocean with the pilgrims, who introduced them into the U.S. in the 17th century. Dried plums are known as prunes that are also sweet and juicy and contain several antioxidants. Prune marketers in the U.S. have begun marketing their product as ‘dried plums’, because ‘prune’ has negative connotations connected with regulating the digestive system. Plums/prunes are high in phenols and are effective in neutralizing free radicals. They also increase the absorption of iron into the body due to their high vitamin C content. Plums are also a good source of vitamins A and B2 along with potassium and dietary fiber. These fruits also slow the ageing process, boost memory, lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease. If you want to purchase plums that are ripe and ready to eat, look for ones that yield to gentle pressure and that are slightly soft at their tip. Avoid those that are excessively hard as they will be immature and will probably not develop a good taste and texture. Good quality plums will feature a rich color and may still have a slight whitish ‘bloom,’ reflecting that they have not been over-handled. They should also be free of punctures, bruises or any signs of decay. Remove the stones if you’re planning on freezing them. Cornmeal Flapjacks with Dried Plums 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal 1/2 cup flour 2 tablespoons sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup milk 2 eggs 2 tablespoons melted butter 3/4 cup (5 ounces) chopped dried plums In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; mix well. Set aside. In small bowl, whisk together milk, eggs and butter. Add to dry ingredients, mixing just until they are moistened. Stir in dried plums; let stand five minutes. Heat lightly grease griddle over medium heat until hot. For each pancake, pour scant 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Cook second side until golden brown. Serve warm with maple syrup, if desired. Next week: Just what does organic mean’ Facts in these articles are obtained from medical and clinical journals, scientific publications, and published tradebooks. These articles have been written and published strictly for information purposes. For any questions contact Susan at trijrsL@msn.com or www.fruitandveggienurse.com.