Saturday, January 5, 2008

WE Food - June Plum

By Natasha G. Samuels

I was introduced to June Plum (Golden Apple if you are from Barbados; Pommecythere if you are from Trinidad and Spondias Dulcis for you science buffs who care to know what the actual botanical name is,) during one of my many trips back to Jamaica. I wasn’t very fond of the fruit then, with its sour skin and jooky big rhaatid seed. It’s amazing though how homesickness will inspire us to eat any and everything that we can get our hands on while abroad even if it was never a favorite of ours when we were back home. As such, although it wasn’t my favorite, I didn’t hesitate to shell out the $5.00 (USD) for four of the green plums when I saw them arranged in a small box at the end of the cashier line in my neighborhood’s one stop West Indian Food store.

As soon as my four little guys were ripe (I put them in a brown paper bag to speed the process), I would peel and eat them in one setting. However, June Plum is edible green. In its un-ripened stage, June Plum can be used in chutneys, pepper sauces, pickles or salsas. The flesh has a crisp, acidic taste and is described by many as having a pineapple-like fragrance and taste. In its ripened stage (which I prefer), the fruit is golden yellow, sweet and less acidic and can be used in salads, juices and deserts. When stewed with sugar and cinnamon, the flesh of the June Plum yields a product, which is like a traditional applesauce but one that is richer in flavor.

Of course as children of the Caribbean, after a challenging climb or for those of you who were less adventurous with exploring the upper limbs of the June plum tree, (like me) would pick the June Plum from off the ground (or wait for it to come from market) and peel the skin of the ripened fruit with a knife or with our teeth and eat as much of the fleshy parts before reaching its prickly core. Another edible part of the June Plum is the leaf of the tree itself. In Southeast Asia the leaves are consumed raw. In Indonesia the leaves are steamed and eaten as a vegetable with salted fish and rice.

A native of the South Pacific, June Plum is another fruit brought to the islands by the infamous Captain Bligh. The fruit is cultivated in Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Venezuela and Surinam. The oblong shaped fruit is considered to be a good source of vitamin C and iron. It is said to be useful in relieving ailments such as diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure and urinary troubles.

June Plum is a popular fruit drink in Guyana. In Jamaica, Tru-Juice bottles and sells June Plum juice to the masses. Here is a juice recipe that you can try at home with ripened June Plums.

June plum juice (one serving)
6 June plums – peeled with the prickly seed removed
½ cup of water
1 tablespoon of honey or brown sugar
½ tablespoon of grated ginger
Place all ingredients in blender with ice. Blend, strain and pour into tall glass.


HR said...

I never knew it was called june plum...cause like you said we bajans call it Golden apple. I was talking about it when I came back from Barbados and no one know what I was talking about. Good to know.

Vinni89 said...

It is grown in Antigua also, and here we refer to it as Golden Apple.

Raymond said...

I am Jamaican, and I do remember as a child, that was one of the fruits the we use to get out of bed early to gather. You see back then we had to get to the fruit before the chickens, because they also loved the fruits and would destroy the good fruits by pecking into them.
I learned the 'golden apple' name when I went to St Lucia, the fruit was being marketted in a drink form, but in my time in Jamaica we only had the fruit as it came from the tree. My question however is why did they call it June Plum? If my memory serves me right, this fruit is abundant in December not June.

hyacinth said...

Maybe a corruption of the word DRUPE, I am not scientific but I am told that the fruit is really a drupe, google it and it you will understand better!

Polly said...

I think the name is a corruption of another name, Jew Plum