3 Qualities that Make Santa Rosa Plums Better than Others

3 Qualities that Make Santa Rosa Plums Better than Others

Even at a glance, you can tell Frog Hollow Farm loves our stone fruits - from the honey-tangy flavors of our multiple apricot varieties to hybrids like pluots and apriums to succulent peaches and nectarines. Across this broad spectrum, Santa Rosa plums are a favorite every summer: Once fully ripe, their red-purple exterior takes on a glossy appearance. Inside, tender red-orange fruit is sweetly juicy with just a touch of tartness from the delicate skin

With each stone fruit taking on a unique set of characteristics, learn why we think Santa Rosa plums are so special:

What is a Santa Rosa Plum?

When someone asks, "Which plums are red inside?", chances are they're thinking about savoring the juicy succulence of a Santa Rosa.

Named for its birthplace, this plum variety was bred in 1906 by the famed California horticulturist Luther Burbank in his Santa Rosa plant research center. Burbank developed over 800 varieties of fruits and vegetables, most notably the russet potato, and the Santa Rosa plum is considered the jewel in his crown.

Of all the plum varieties, Santa Rosas stand out with key physical and flavor characteristics:

  • Starting in the spring, white-pink flowers start to bloom on Santa Rosa plum trees.
  • Burbank developed the plum by crossing Japanese and European varieties, aiming to create a hybrid that could grow in California's conditions.
  • Despite its medium-firm feel, Santa Rosa plums have smoother, more delicate skin that starts dark red and takes on a purplish hue.
  • Inside, rich flesh varies from yellow-orange closer to the pit to dark red by the skin; after a bite, its juice may run down your chin. These qualities make Santa Rosa plums ideal for eating out of hand, cooking and making jams and preserves.
  • Flavor wise, Santa Rosa plums lean in a honeyed yet subtle direction with clear acid hints.

Why We Prefer Santa Rosa Plums

Today, their delicate nature means Santa Rosa plums are less likely to be commercially cultivated. We continue to grow them and share them with you for the following reasons:

Deep, Rich Flavor

The sweet, tender, and juicy flesh of a Santa Rosa plum is complemented by a hint of tartness in the skin, which serves to balance out the sugars for a perfect blend of flavor.

The Santa Rosa plum may have fallen out of favor in the fruit-growing industry - having been replaced by plums that are bigger and ship better - but it still remains the benchmark among all "fruities" for plum flavor. Not many varieties can compete with the plump perfection of a Santa Rosa, and at Frog Hollow Farm, we recognize and respect its supremacy and continue to grow organic Santa Rosa plums on our farm so that you may enjoy this delicious treat every summer.

Once Santa Rosa season is over, and you still crave their exquisite plum taste , you'll be delighted by our Flavor King pluots (a pluot is a hybrid between a plum and an apricot). They have an intense rich flavor, like the Santa Rosa plum, combined with sweet, spicy tones.

Beautiful, Dark Color

While dark red to purple-skinned with a purple bloom from the exterior, the Santa Rosa plum's juicy amber flesh is flushed with a bright red hue at the edges. You may see scars on the fruit every so often, but these are strictly cosmetic and do not affect the fruit's flavor at all. (Note: Thrips are insects that scratch the skin of a plum when it's young, resulting in the beige scar you see.)

Compact Size

Bigger than bite-sized varieties, Santa Rosa plums are sized just right to please without being overwhelming.

Chef Becky's Expert Tips on Storing and Cooking With Santa Rosa Plums

Frog Hollow Farm's Rebecca Courchesne (Chef Becky!), co-author of Cooking Light Magazine's The Art of Preserving, shares her expert advice on how to handle, consume and cook with plums.

  • Santa Rosa plums get very soft when they are ripe, so they require a lot of care while handling.
  • They may be refrigerated, but only once completely ripe.
  • When cooking with plums, don't be surprised if you need more sugar than you originally planned on using: It can take a lot to balance out the tartness from the skin.
  • On the other hand, the tart skin, coupled with the fact that they are high in pectin, makes Santa Rosa plums great for jams.
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