A plumcot is the result of cross-breeding between plum and apricot trees. Depending on the levels of pollination and the varieties of tree used, the resulting hybrid will usually display characteristics of both parent fruits, although the specific traits may differ with each cross. Renowned horticulturist Luther Burbank is often credited with creating the first plumcot, although several trademarked versions, notably the Pluot® and the Aprium® are also owned by Zaiger's Genetics of Modesto, CA.
Plumcots are the result of a 50/50 hybridization between a plum tree and an apricot tree. For the trademarked versions, a plumcot is cross-bred repeatedly to create a third version- either 25% plum or 25% apricot. Although plumcots are somewhat rare outside of California, it is now possible to purchase trees for your own yard or orchard throughout the United States. Plumcot trees will likely grow well anywhere that plums or apricots grow.
Original plumcots closely resemble a plum in size, texture and coloring but taste equally of plum and apricot. Since the distinctions between varieties are largely unknown, a plumcot sold in a store may vary widely from these traditional characteristics. Some may be shaped like plums, but have a slightly fuzzy pink or pale orange skin and lighter flesh like an apricot. However, fans of plums and apricots should not be deterred by variations; a cross of two delicious fruits is likely to produce equally delicious, if somewhat varying, results.
In cooking, a plumcot can be used much as a plum or other stone fruit. Plumcot cobbler or crisp can be an equally tasty alternative for traditional peach versions. For delicious, fruity muffins, use plumcot juice to water down muffin batter and place a slice of the fruit into each muffin top while baking.
Plumcot jam may be one of the greatest recipes yet discovered for this hybrid fruit. In a saucepan, combine skinned and sliced plumcots with juice and a squeeze of lemon. Add pectin or other jelling agent as desired, and simmer for one to two hours,un til desired texture is achieved. Add a cinnamon stick or a few whole cloves for a truly spicy, fruit-filled delight.
For a truly fantastic summer salad, try mixing the best of stone fruits with the best berries. Peel and slice peaches, nectarines, and plumcots and chill. Toss in a handful each of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Sugar may be added if necessary, but often the ripe fruit won't need any help to taste sweet. For those who just can't leave a dish as it is, mix in a few sprinkles of cloves and cinnamon and add a few fresh mint leaves.
Plumcots may reach their pinnacle when introduced to alcohol, and the new fruit gives aspiring drink masters a chance to create a brand-new cocktail. Steep with red or white wine and other summer fruits for a spicy, delicious sangria. Place in a sterilized bottle or jar with vodka and age for a few days for a spectacular mixer. The joy of new fruits is the new recipes that can be discovered, so don't be afraid to buy a lot and experiment!