After just a few weeks interning at Frog Hollow Farm- spending time with Farmer Al, countless tastings, and a bit of research- I’ve been able to satiate both my taste buds and curiosity about these mystical fruits. Here’s what I learned!
- Names and History: The words “pluot” (pronounced ploo-aat) and “aprium” (pronounced a-pree-um) are the blends of the words “apricot” and “plum” - which perfectly reflect how the fruits taste and came to be. Both apriums and pluots are the hybrid cross between an apricot and a plum. Horticulturist Luther Burbank created the first apricot-plum hybrid in the late 1800s but the aprium and pluot were created and popularized by Kurt Zaiger, a well-renowned breeder and the founder of Zaiger’s Genetics. Zaiger developed the aprium and pluot hybrids in the late 20th century and has since developed over 20 different breeds of apricot-plum hybrids. Farmer Al has been a longtime fan of Zaiger’s work; after tasting the delectable fruits for the first time, he knew he had to share these fruits with the Frog Hollow Farm community and thus planted our first pluot tree in 1997 and aprium tree in 2003!
- Overview: Both the aprium tree and pluot tree produce fruit with a higher sugar content than both parent apricots and plums do, which is why they are so utterly irresistible! As their names suggest, apriums are more related to apricots and pluots are more similar to plums. Apriums are about 60-70% apricot and 30% plum while pluots are about 60% plum and 40% apricot. After learning this, I worried whether these fruits were the products of genetic engineering, as they would be contrary to Frog Hollow Farm’s mission of organic farming and the slow food movement. Upon further research, I learned that apriums and pluots are actually known as “interspecific complex hybrids” - meaning that they are bred through selective hand pollination over multiple generations without artificially changing the actual DNA of the species.
- Varieties & Where to Find: From the countless varieties developed by Zaiger, Farmer Al has picked his favorites to incorporate into our Frog Hollow Farm community. In our orchards, we have 4 varieties of apriums: Honey Rich, Cot-n-Candy, Leah Cot, and Country Cot, and 8 varieties of pluots: Dapple Dandy, Flavor King, Crimson Royale, Flavor Heart, Honey Punch, Flavor Fall, Flavor Rich, and Flavor Treat. Our apriums are harvested from mid May to mid June and our pluots are harvested from mid July to mid October; both fruits can be found at our Bay Area farmers markets locations, grocery stores, and mail order. Currently, you can order peaches to be delivered to you from our trees to your table in 48 hours.
- Taste and Appearance: Our Frog Hollow Farm community adores apriums and pluots for their extraordinary flavor, succulent texture, and juicy flesh. The texture of aprium flesh is softer and more textured and their skin is a vibrant orange, with select varieties wearing a scarlet blush, and a light layer of fuzz, very similar to traditional apricots. The rich apricot flavor is balanced with a touch of plum tartness. The aprium varieties at Frog Hollow Farm vary greatly in size; our Country Cot aprium is almost the size of a baseball while our Cot-n-Candy aprium is about the size of a golf ball! While our apriums share similar colorings and vary greatly in size, our pluot varieties vary greatly in appearance but share a similar tennis ball size, with their skins being anything from spotty green and pink blush to violet and pale orange, depending on the individual fruit and variety. The pluot has a thinner, slightly tart skin, similar to the traditional plum, with a soft, floral, and distinctly sweet flesh. Flavor King, one of our most popular varieties, wears a deep skin and surprises with a bright crimson flesh while Dapple Dandy, our kid favorite, fashions marbled pink and green skin over delicate white flesh threaded with rose.
- Uses: At Frog Hollow Farm, we usually enjoy both stone fruits by themselves. Last week, I made a lemon mousse, pistachio, and Leah Cot Aprium tart for a welcome dinner for Austen, our new intern. James, our supply chain consultant, actually said he had a dream about the tart the morning after. I also hear that candied pluots are amazing!
If you’ve also been wondering about the difference between apriums and pluots, I hope this was helpful! If you haven’t been too able to try apriums or pluots yet, I highly suggest trying them out either through Frog Hollow Farm at your local farmers markets or grocery store, our CSA or delivered directly to your door from our trees to table in 48 hours.