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.