One of the fabulous things about food is that we can share it with other people & create a social bond that makes us happier. In the photo below are some plums that my neighbours have just given me, picked from the plum tree that was in their garden when they bought their home over 30 years ago … so with the gift we exchanged memories, built bonds & appreciated this unexpectedly warm weather that has kept fruit crops going for much longer than last year. Food makes a wonderful present!
Here are ten juicy nuggets about plums:
- In both Chinese & Japanese myth, plums are associated with paradise, longevity & immortality. The Japanese Tree of Life was said to grow on the island of Penglai, or Horaizan, and had a golden trunk, golden branches, silver roots and luscious fruit (Andrews 2000)
- Plums contain neochlorogenic & chorogenic acid, two phenols that have well-documented antioxidant & anti-cancer properties (Murray & Pizzorno 2005)
- If plums are very hard they are not yet ripe, so just leave them out in the fruit bowl for a couple of days before they become soft & sweet enough to eat. To avoid a whole tubful becoming ripe at the same time, leave some in the fridge to slow that ripening process.
- Plums are easy to stew; simply halve & remove the stones, then chop into bitesized pieces or leave as halves, whichever you prefer. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the saucepan and cook over a gentle heat until very soft. Stewed plums can be added to plain yoghurt & drizzled with raw honey for dessert.
- Sharp flavoured plums can be stewed & then used to accompany fatty meats such as pork, goose & duck.
- Once dried, plums become known as prunes & can be very effective at reducing constipation
- The earliest cultivation of plums was in China, and plums of oriental origin dominate the Californian crops (Davidson 2006)
- In Traditional Chinese Medicine & Ayurvedic traditions plums are used to treat liver conditions, with purple plums particularly favoured in liver conditions that express themselves as emotional suppression, pain & nervous disorders (Pitchford 2002)
- Umeboshi salt plums are very sour, and the fruit used is actually more closely related to apricots than plums (Davidson 2006). Known as “Japanese Alka-Seltzer” they are often eaten as a form of pickle alongside other foods & are used to treat indigestion, diarrhoea, remove worms & support liver function (Pitchford 2002)
- Plums were enjoyed in Ancient Egypt & were among the provisions for the afterlife stored in the tome of Kha, the architect of Thebes. The trees gradually spread throughout Europe, with stones being discovered by archaeologists at Roman sites throughout Britain (Selby 2008)
Could adding plums to your food choices make you happier?
Use the Soul Nutrition online food diary Nourish to record when you eat them & how you feel – free for 30 days @ www.soulnutrition.org
Soul Nutrition is inspired by all the lives touched by brain tumours, and donates to brain cancer research into the potential use of the ketogenic diet as an adjunct therapy for brain tumours via the UK based charities
Soul Nutrition provides 3 interactive online tools to help people find their own path to a happier, more balanced life. This unique website invites you to enjoy a 30 day free trial so that you can take your time to explore The Happiness Calendar, the life coaching model SHIFT, and the reflective, photographic food diary ‘Nourish’.
Andrews.T. (2000) Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology Oxford, ABC-CLIO
Davidson.A.(2006) The Oxford Companion to Food (Oxford Companions) New York, Oxford University Press
Murray.M.& Pizzorno.J.E.(2005) The Encyclopaedia Of Healing Foods London, Piatkus
Pitchford.P.(2002) Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books
Selby.A.(2008) Food Through the Ages: Stuffed Dormice to Pineapple Hedgehogs Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Remember When