PLUOTS ARE THE fruit world’s sexiest transvestites. On the outside, a Flavor Heart might be all plum, with smooth wine-colored skin and a slightly pointy bottom. Take a bite, though, and instead of the juicy red you expect, you’ll find bright orange flesh. It can be shocking if you’re not prepared.
“There are still quite a few people who have no idea what a pluot is,” says John McPherson, of Tiny’s Organic, which sells 20 tons of pluots at Seattle-area farmers markets in a good season. “I say it’s a plum bud that’s cross—pollinated with an apricot bud.” Scrap the farmerspeak, and you get a cross between a plum and an apricot, with stronger plum genes. (An aprium has stronger apricot genes.)
Tiny’s pluot varietals sound like superheroes. There’s Flavor Supreme, the olive-skinned, crimson-fleshed beauty that shows up in mid-July. Dapple Dandy, the first pluot created back in the ’80s, has a freckled, dark peach-colored skin and light, creamy flesh.
Pluots are more tart than regular plums and juicier than regular apricots—and for the fuzz-averse among us, they are blessedly smooth. Farmers love them because their harvest season stretches from mid-June through late October, if the frost doesn’t get them. What many folks don’t understand, says McPherson, is that pluots are simply a product of simple crossbreeding. “Nothing’s been genetically modified in a lab, so I say the more variety, the better. The better-tasting fruit we can find to plant, the happier we’ll all be.”
And tasty they are. Most pluots are meant to be eaten when they ripen to a soft, juicy state, but some—like the Flavor Grenade, an oblong, yellow-and-red-mottled specimen with yellow meat—are best crunchy, like an apple. Always ask your farmer when a specific variety is at its best.