Plums: The South African plum season is well underway with the early season black and red varieties such as Pioneer, Sapphire, Souvenir, Purple Majesty and Black Splendour. Also available are yellow plums, such as Sunkiss and a number of newer varieties which make ad hoc appearances in retailers.
All these varieties are good to eat as long as they are properly ripe, though Pioneer is probably the weakest in flavour. To a large extent, the retailers’ demands of their suppliers does influence the success of the ripening process because they influence the moment chosen to harvest. However, as consumers we can improve the chances of experiencing a plum at its best by making sure they are good and soft before eating. It is best to keep plums in your fruit bowl at room temperature, as keeping them in the fridge will hold-back the ripening. Let them darken and soften, often until you can see a little wrinkling around the base of the fruit. Look for a kind of heavy softness that you can feel penetrates into the flesh, then you should experience the lovely sweetness and flavour of a good plum!
Two new varieties are worth seeking out for better sweetness and flavour are Ruby Sun (seen in Asda, Waitrose) and African Rose (seen in Aldi, M&S): both are very promising!