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Satsuma plums are small to medium sized with mottled maroon skins over a green base. The round, plump plums measure between 6 and 7 centimeters in diameter and are firm with tough skins that can be somewhat bitter. The flesh is dark red and meaty offering a juicy consistency. The central pit, or seed, is a semi-clingstone and roughly 2 centimeters long. Satsuma plums have a sweet flavor with balanced acidity and a subtle almond flavor.
Satsuma plums are available in the mid-summer months.
Satsuma plums are a Japanese variety botanically known as Prunus salicina. They have long been considered a favorite of Californians and are believed to be one of the more popular blood plum varieties. At the beginning of the 20th century, blood plums like the Satsuma gained popularity over European varieties and made up a third of exports from California growers. The release of crosses like pluots and apriums, as well as other new hybrid plums, during the 1970s lessened their popularity. Satsuma plums are still a favorite of home growers.
Satsuma plums are a good source of vitamin C and iron. They are also a source of vitamin A, B-complex vitamins riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin, as well as potassium, phosphorus and calcium. The deep red flesh and dark skin of the Satsuma plum are a source of anthocyanin, which provides excellent antioxidant benefits.
Satsuma plums are eaten raw and are ideal for jams and sauces. Add sliced plums to fruit salads or green salads. Rough chop for chutneys or ice creams. Puree peeled fruits for jams, jellies, sauces, sorbets or dehydrate for fruit leather. Add Satsuma plums to baked goods like muffins, pies, upside-down cakes, scones and tarts. Use them in savory recipes with pork or chicken. Pair Satsumas with almonds, bitter greens, rich creamy cheeses and other stone fruits. They will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Luther Burbank, California horticulturalist and philanthropist, was the recipient of 12 seedlings, including a blood plum tree from Yokohama, Japan in the mid-1880s. He named it “Satsuma” after a province in Japan though it was originally sold under the name ‘Blood Plum of Satsuma’ beginning in 1887. Burbank was responsible for introducing several different varieties of Japanese plum and crosses based on his breeding efforts. He played a big part in helping develop commercial Asian-type plum cultivation in California.
Satsuma plums are native to Japan and were brought to California in the late 19th century. They became the parent plum to several popular cultivars like the ‘Santa Rosa’ and ‘Mariposa.’ The low chill requirement for producing the Japanese plums was well-suited to the mild, Southern California climate. Satsumas only require between 300 and 400 hours at a low temperature in order to fruit. They are primarily grown in areas with milder winters and can be found in Australia, Europe and the United States. Satsuma plums are not commercially available and are most likely spotted at local farmers markets and widely available through nurseries.
Recipes that include Satsuma Plums. One is easiest, three is harder.
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