My Favorite Spring Fruits, Part 1

Thursday July 12, 2012

By Elizabeth Taviloglu, Guide for Turkish Food

It's mid-May and spring is in full swing all across Anatolia. I'm out on a mission to find my favorite springtime fruits. My first choice every year is the Turkish green plum.

I wait anxiously all winter for the arrival of this special fruit. Also called 'Priest's Plum' or 'Soul Plum,' this bright green, sour plum is in season from mid-April through early June.

Green plums have a very low sugar content and they are more acidic than other plums. They can be so sour I hesitate to even call them a fruit!

Turkish people consume a lot of green plums very quickly during their short season. Their effect is like potato chips - once you start crunching away, it's really hard to stop!

About Green Plums

The green plum is common in the Balkans, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries. Harvest begins as early as end-March and continues through June. Early in the season the plums are small and very tart.

As the season progresses they get larger, juicier and slightly sweeter. By mid-June the harvest turns from green to pale yellow, and the plums become much softer and sweeter.

Green Plum Benefits

Green plums are rich in vitamin A, high in fiber and low calorie. They are suitable for low salt diets and are said to aid digestion and help increase appetite.

Many women in Turkey, including myself, use them as a natural diet aid. A large bowl of crunchy green plums not only fills you up, it takes a long time to eat!

Where to Get Them

If you are in Eastern Europe, Turkey or the Middle East green plums should be easy to find at your local market or street stand. Outside Turkey, there are several websites that sell them for a few weeks each spring: http://bestturkishfood.com and http://tulumba.com.

How To Eat Them

You can put the whole plum in your mouth and chew gently around the pit, then spit it out (Turkish people do this gracefully, depositing the pit into their closed fist). Another way is to hold the plum in your fingers and nibble around the pit (this is messier).

Serving Suggestions

Their tartness and crunchy texture go especially well with cocktails and spirits. Small bowls of green plums are served over ice in bars and nightclubs along with mixed nuts and sometimes cherries.

Many people dip their plums in salt before crunching away. This dampens the sourness, but I actually prefer green plums plain.

It's nice to wash them then store them in the fridge so you get a cold, juicy crunch when it's time to serve them.

Some use green plums to make marmelade. I like to use them in a sour salad sauce that stores nicely in the fridge for a few days and tastes great drizzled over fresh greens.

Get some green plums while you can, they'll be gone before you know it!

Coming up:

My Favorite Spring Fruits, Part 2.

Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2012

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