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When to Pick Plums [5 Helpful Tips]

Pick plums when the fruit has a little give when you gently squeeze it. When ready, the plums should also easily come off the stem with a slight twisting motion. In most areas, late spring through mid-fall is prime plum-picking season. The plum fruit does not continue to ripen after picking, although it will get softer. So, plan to use your plums within a few days or put them in the refrigerator. You can pick plums before they’re ripe, but they will lack sweetness. If you have a lot of unripe plums, make green plum jam or pickled sour green plums instead.

When to pick plums

How Do You Know When to Pick Plums?

The best way to know when to pick plums is by giving them a gentle squeeze. When ripe, the plum will have a little bit of give when you squeeze it. Unripe plums feel hard to the touch.

  • Test the ripeness of your plums by giving them a little squeeze to see if they have any give.
  • Ripe plums will flex under your fingers while unripe ones feel rock hard to the touch.
  • When ripe, plums will easily come off the stem when you give them a slight twist.
  • Plums that go past peak ripeness will fall off the tree and break open on the ground.

As plums reach peak ripeness, they get easier to pick, too. You can simply twist the plum slightly and it will come right off the stem. If the plum is not yet ripe, it will hold fast to the stem instead. Plums that are too ripe will come off the branch on their own and be damaged when they fall to the ground.

What Month Do You Pick Plums?

In most areas, you’ll want to pick plums between late May and mid-October. When the plums ripen depends on their variety and your location. Black Splendor plums ripen in early June, for example. Angeleno plums, on the other hand, don’t become ripe fruit until mid-September.

  • Depending on the plum variety, they ripen from late May through mid-October.
  • The exact month for picking plums depends on the type of plum and your location.
  • Watch your plums carefully to note when they go from green to their final hue.
  • Check your plums for peak ripeness after they change color.

In California, plums ripen from late spring through the end of summer. In the UK, however, most plums don’t start to ripen until late summer and continue to be harvested through mid-fall. So, you’ll need to watch your plums carefully from flower to peak ripeness. Then, check them for prime picking time with a gentle squeeze.

Do Plums Continue to Ripen When Picked?

Plums do not continue to ripen after getting picked. Instead, they get softer, and then start to rot. Putting your plums in the refrigerator keeps them from going bad as fast. The cold temperatures can mute the plum flavor and change their texture though.

  • Plums do not continue to ripen after getting picked.
  • Refrigeration keeps plums fresh longer but can alter the flavor and texture of the fruit.
  • Nonclimacteric stone fruits do not create ethylene gas during the ripening process.
  • Plums only keep ripening and getting sweeter while they are still attached to the tree branch.

As nonclimacteric stone fruits, plums do not produce meaningful amounts of ethylene gas while ripening. Instead, they ripen and get sweeter only while connected to the stem of the tree.

Can You Pick Plums Before They Are Ripe?

You can pick plums before they are ripe, but it’s not advised. Plums taste the best when allowed to fully ripen right on the tree. They will not develop any extra sweetness after coming off the stem. Instead, they will just get softer to the touch.

  • You can pick plums before they are ripe, but they will not get any sweeter.
  • Plums develop all of their sweetness while still on the branch of their tree.
  • Pick only a couple of plums to check their sweetness level before committing to picking more.
  • Remember that ripe plums will often go bad after just 3 days of sitting on the counter.

It’s best to only pick a couple of plums to see if they’re truly ready. Check the plums for give, see if they easily twist off the branch, and then taste them. If you’re happy with their current level of sweetness, then you can keep picking as many as you’d like. Just remember that plums may go bad after just 3 days on the counter.

What Can You Do with Under Ripe Plums?

Underripe plum recipes allow you to use up any fruits picked too early. The two most popular unripe plum recipes are green plum jam or pickled sour green plums. When making plums into jam, the added sugar makes up for the lack of sweetness. The pickled sour green plum recipe plays on the naturally tart flavors of the unripe fruit.

  • Underripe plum recipes let you use up any fruit picked off the tree too early in the season.
  • The two most popular recipes include green plum jam and pickled sour green plums.
  • You will need to invest in canning supplies and follow the directions carefully for these recipes.
  • If you’re not careful, botulism toxin could develop in the improperly preserved plums.
  • Eat green plum delicacies slowly to avoid a stomachache.

Both recipes require a serious investment in canning supplies. Plus, you’ll want to follow the directions carefully to avoid getting sick. Botulism toxin commonly occurs in incorrectly preserved fruits and vegetables. Also, remember to go slow when consuming green plums. Too many at once can leave you with stomach pains.

When Should You Pick Plums?

Pick plums when they feel slightly soft to the touch. As you pick each one, they should easily come off the tree with a twist. You’ll want to pick your plums from late spring to mid-fall. The exact picking date depends on the variety of plums you grow and your location.

  • Ripe plums feel slightly soft to the touch and come off the branch easily.
  • Most varieties of plums ripen between late spring and mid-autumn.
  • Picking plums too early will result in fruit without the right level of sweetness.
  • The plums will only get softer, not sweeter, once they’re pulled off the tree.
  • Green plum recipes let you use up any fruit pulled off the tree too early in the season.

Avoid picking plums too early or they won’t have their signature sweet flavor. Plums do not continue to ripen on the counter. They just get softer instead of further developing their sweetness. If you pick plums too early, consider using them up in green plum recipes.

Pay close attention to the fruiting cycle of your own plum trees. With that in mind, you’ll easily pinpoint the ideal month to pick the fruit. Then, you’ll be rewarded with sweet, juicy plums every time.

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