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A Fruity Twofer

Pluots bring all of the flavor, none of the fuzz.

By Jess Thomson June 23, 2009 Published in the July 2009 issue of Seattle Met

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.

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