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What Is Plum Oil?

By Lakshmi Sandhana
Updated May 16, 2024
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Plum oil is a gourmet oil that is prized for its almondlike aroma and marzipan-type flavor. Primarily used as a flavoring agent in cooking, it is made by splitting open plum kernels and pressing them very slowly through mechanical devices. Possessing large amounts of vitamin E, this oil has a golden yellow color with fruity accents and is widely used to enhance the flavor of pastries, salad dressings, and marinades. First used in France for its ability to impart an almond flavor to sweets and as a more complex tasting substitute for almond oil, this nut oil has gained great popularity in restaurants that seek to give innovative touches to their dishes.

Processing plum kernels to obtain the oil involves collecting the kernels and washing and drying them. They are then cracked, and the almonds within the pits are pressed slowly until the oil seeps out. In addition to its exotic flavor and aroma, this nut oil is considered to be extremely healthy and has been certified by the French Food and Safety Administration as a source of vitamin E. It contains no trans fat and has about 70 percent oleic acid, making it very stable at high heat, allowing it to be fried up to around 180 degrees Centigrade (356 degrees Fahrenheit). Once a bottle of plum oil has been opened, storing it in a cool and dry place will ensure its longevity and increase its shelf life, which is around one and a half years.

Used in a myriad of ways, it can complement fruity sauces, perfume vegetables, flavor mayonnaise, and it can be drizzled on fruits like grapefruits and strawberries. It leaves behind a delicate perfume when used as a vinaigrette on seafood or as an ingredient in marinades or sauces. Combining well with diverse ingredients, such as armangnac, balsamic vinegar, canapes, and milk cream, it can be used to create many original dishes. In the pastry industry, it is used to perfume muffins and pancakes and accentuate mousse, paste creams, toffees, and cakes.

Sometimes used as a finishing oil on hot meals, plum oil can also be sprinkled over entrées; it only needs a few drops because the flavor is quite strong. Some of its more exotic uses involve mixing it with ice creams, salad dressings, or dark chocolate or sprinkling it on tapas or sushi. Another property of this oil is its ability to blend well with other neutral tasting oils, making it possible to add an exotic almond aroma to culinary creations. It balances salty, sweet, and other flavors really well and introduces a heady note of almond into the mix. Considered to be an extremely sophisticated oil, plum oil has been incorporated into some of the best dishes in France.

Also part of some of the most luxurious cosmetics because of its high fatty acids content, it leaves no residue on the skin. Plum oil is extensively used in body care applications within the cosmetic industry because of its rich vitamin E content, higher percentage of tocopherols, and unique almond aroma. It has applications as an emollient oil in lipsticks, baby massage creams, moisturizing creams, and antiaging creams. Greatly valued for its beneficial effects on dry and mature skin, plum oil easily penetrates, giving skin a silky yet dry appearance.

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Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Jan 24, 2015

I think this oil needs to be called "plum kernel seed oil." Plum oil is not correct and it's confusing. I initially thought that the oil came from the fruit. In some countries, they actually sell plum kernels as a type of "almond." So it's not surprising that it's an almond substitute in recipes.

By ysmina — On Jan 24, 2015

@candyquilt-- Yea, I use plum oil in my hair. It's very nice. Its smells great, makes my hair shiny and soft, and conditions it as well. I've not tried using it on my skin, but that is a great idea. I bet you could add some to your facial cream for the benefits.

The only downside to plum oil is that it's expensive. I think that's why not many people know about it or use it. Having said that though, a little really does go a long way. I have long hair below my shoulders and just a drop or two of plum oil is enough. I suspect that the bottle will last me close to a year.

By candyquilt — On Jan 23, 2015

I had never heard of plum oil before but it sounds amazing. I'm not really interested in the culinary uses. I think that skin products with this oil must be very beneficial. Vitamin E itself is very beneficial for skin. It can help skin heal and it can fight aging. I will definitely look for skin products containing plum oil. I hope they're not too difficult to find.

Does anyone here use plum oil for cosmetic purposes?

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