Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Plum By Any Other Name

Did you know that plums are members of the Rose family. Is it any wonder they smell so sweet? There are said to be thousands of varieties of plums as a result of hybridization or cross breeding.

In Jamaica we have a fruit which we simply call plum. The color ranges from yellow to red to deep red or purplish. My son begged me to buy some yesterday, not having seen it for quite some time. By the time we arrived home the car was fragrant with the scent causing us both to salivate.

This plum which of course has its season from late spring to summer smells good and its taste is not disappointing. Sweet with a tart tangy quality, the pulp is snugly attached to the seed which is like a large stone with a fibrous cover. This fruit once ripe does not last long. We don't mind though as it is so delicious who can wait to eat it. If you wish you can store it in the refrigerator where it will last for a while.

What is interesting is that I hear that this fruit is not really a plum. It is a relative of the mango and you can actually see the resemblance, despite its small size. It has a soft sometimes leathery skin(which is eaten) like the mango and a single hard seed.

The tree which bears this fruit can grow very tall. If you look at the picture you will note that the fruits grow in clusters right from the branches the leaves having been shed. They are hardly cultivated yet are found in abundance throughout tropical America especially in the Caribbean islands.

Some of the names which it is known by are: yellow mombin or hog plum, Hog plum, Java plum, tropical plum, marapa, Spanish plum, acaiba, mopé, jobo, hobo, ubo, yellow mombin, prune d'or, tapiriba, Ashanti plum, True yellow mombin, Jamaica plum, Spanish plum, Thorny hog plum, Mombin à fruits jaunes, Mombin franc, Gelbe Mombinpflaume, Acaiba , Acaja. But what's in a name?

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