There are many varieties of plum available. Some are sweet and are suitable as dessert fruits and others are tart and can be made into jams or chutneys. Either type can be used for baking. There is a variety of skin colours from green and yellow to dark red and purple.
The European plum has been cultivated since ancient times, probably originating in central or south Eastern Europe. Plums have formed part of the British diet for centuries with the Victoria plum first being cultivated in the 1840s in Sussex. Nowadays, there are over 300 varieties of plum grown in Britain. Look for plump smooth plums which have a good colour.
For cooking, choose ones that are nearly ripe. Plums are an obvious choice for tarts, crumbles and cobblers and can be spiced up using cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, star anise or vanilla or by adding ground nuts, such as hazelnuts, to the pastry, crumble or cobbler mix.
Make a variation to a plum tart by cooking it as a plum Tarte Tatin or use plums in a traybake, for example, pressed into a sponge cake or pastry mixture and topped with a streusel and oat topping.
In season: August - October
By Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the world-famous Leiths School of Food and Wine