If you like apricots and plums, the pluot is a hybrid of the two and offers eaters the rich roundness of stone fruits with the mild sweetness found in both ingredients. Pronounced "plew-ott," this fruit ripens by the end of summer and can be found up until October. Eat it raw, cook it down, and add the pretty spotted orbs into your lunch sack for a naturally sweet treat that was created by science by playing around with nature.
What Are Pluots?
This hybrid has an interesting history as the pluot was derived from the less-popular plumcot, a fruit developed around the 1920s by plant breeder Luther Burbank. The plumcot traditionally features 50 percent plum mixed with 50 percent apricot. Sixty years later Floyd Zaiger, who owns Zaiger Genetics, released a version of Burbank's plumcot, the Plum Parfait and Flavorella.
Because plumcots proved hard to grow and ship, Zaiger rebranded the fruit as a pluot in the 1990s. He also upped the plum ratio and most samples of this fruit now only have 25 to 40 percent apricot DNA. Slowly, these fruits entered grocery stores, and these speckled fruits surface during peak season in mid to late summer. You will find them in a range of colors and sizes reflective of their DNA, from ping pong ball-sized to fruits that are as big as a fist, to pluots that look just like a plum, but with spots.
Though the pluot sounds like a genetically modified food, it's actually a crossbred item; apricots and plums were both hand pollinated to create the fruit, unlike a GMO product. The pluot comes in a rainbow of colors ranging from pinkish red to bright green to dark purple, all depending on what type of plum the fruit derives from.
How to Use Pluots
When pluot season comes around stock up on these sweet stone fruits and munch on them fresh. Add slices to a summer salad or to a cheese board. They pair great with aged Gouda, clothbound cheddar, feta, or light brie. There's a slight crunch to the skin, supple flesh inside, and plenty of juice.
All these characteristics make the pluot a great fruit to use in cooking, too, namely in jams, chutney, sauces, and baking. Slice the pluot thinly and use it to decorate a buttery cake, or stew down to make a rich lacquer for those ribs you're throwing on the grill. When making jelly or any other preserved condiment, treat the pluot as you would a plum or other stone fruit. It's easy to use in about any way you would a plum, peach, or apricot.
What Do Pluots Taste Like?
There's a pleasing sweetness to a pluot that mostly mimics a plum. Dark pinkish pluots have more of a deep sugariness, and the lighter, more yellowish-red fruits mimic golden plums. Unlike a plum the skin isn't bitter; it's more like an apricot in this way. Apricot also shines through in the texture, and you may find most pluots have a thicker, more rounded flesh than a plain plum. If you find a green variety of pluot try it; it's not unripe but has more of a tropical taste.
Because pluots are mostly comprised of plum DNA, you can use this fruit as a substitute anywhere plums are used from jams and sauces to baked goods and as a filling for pierogies. Keep in mind the flavor is a bit sweeter and the skin is less bitter, and the texture proves closer to an apricot.
Where to Buy Pluots
You can find pluots in many grocery stores and some farmers' markets come August, and they can sometimes be found as late as October. Many pluots in the supermarket come from California, where the majority of the fruits are grown, but they can grow in the same conditions that are hospitable to peaches, apricots, and plums.
Keep unripe pluots in a paper bag on the counter in order to mature. If your fruit is already ripe you can leave it in the fruit basket out of the sun for a few days, or store in the refrigerator for up to a week. They do turn fast, so it's best to eat your fruit right away when sourced fresh.
You can also freeze the fruit, too. Slice them and set them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper. Once they're frozen, transfer to a zip-close bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
There are plenty of varieties of pluots that differ depending on the apricot-to-plum ratio. One thing to keep in mind though is the name pluot was trademarked by Zaiger Genetics, so sometimes you'll see the fruit under labels such as apriums and apriplums. Keep in mind a plumcot is not quite the same as a pluot, it is more of a 50/50 blend of the apricot and plum where the pluot has larger plum aspects than apricot (ratios can differ). Names of pluots (or pluot-like fruit) you might see include the Dapple Dandy, the large Dinosaur Egg, Red Ray, Flavor Penguin and so many more.