What Are Pluots?
If you've heard the word "pluot" and didn't quite know what it was, you wouldn't be the first to raise an eyebrow. (Is like a kumquat? Or is it a tropical fruit? The answer is no to both questions.) But never fear. We have an explanation for pluots, what they are, where to buy them and how to cook with them.
What Are Pluots?
Pluots are stone fruits that are a cross between plums and apricots, but they're mostly plum. Hybrid fruits are not unusual (think: Meyer lemons), but pluots (which look like plums) are actually hybrids of hybrids—which is easier to explain than it is to try to visualize.
Before there were pluots, there were plumcots. Plumcots are a hybrid of plums and apricots; they're a 50-50 blend of the two stone fruits. To take hybridization further, plumcots were then mixed with plums to create pluots, which is 75% plum and 25% apricot. That ratio is an approximation—growers have been playing with the ratios to come up with the most delicious hybrid—but it's safe to say that a pluot is more plum than apricot.
Texture, Flavor and Color
The texture, flavor and color of pluots are very similar to those of plums. They have smooth skin that can be dark red, dark purple or red with yellow flecks. The skin is glossy and sleek like a plum but the flesh is a bit different. They can have red or yellow flesh, but it's less juicy and not as grainy as plum flesh—it's smooth and consistent. Pluots are also a bit sweeter than plums, but have a floral notes similar to a plum.
Why Mess with Plums?
A horticulturist and plant breeder named Luther Burbank is largely credited for coming up with plumcots. He did a lot of experimenting in hand pollination with plums imported from Japan in the late 19th century and early 20th century to come up with sweeter, more flavorful fruits. He's known as the "father of plant patents" and was named inventor on the patents of six plum hybrids, but not the plumcot. The inventor listed on the patent for the plumcot was Floyd Zaiger in 1977. He wanted to create a more complex hybrid that looked and tasted like a plum with the sturdiness of an apricot. He succeeded and developed many varieties of plum-apricot hybrids, as well as other fruit hybrids.
Where to Buy Pluots
Pluots are becoming more common. They can be found at some major grocery chains, farmers' markets and natural foods stores like Whole Foods when they're in season (May to September).
Pluots and plums carry the same nutritional value: each fruit has about 30 calories, is rich in antioxidants and delivers vitamins and fiber.