Insider's Viewpoint: Expert Supermarket Advice: A Franken-Fruit? Alicia Brown, United Supermarkets. Fruits And Veggies More

A few weeks ago, I was attending one of our store’s manager meetings. The hour was almost up and we had reached the best part of the meeting – the tasting! Our produce manager had brought an assortment of fruits, some of which resembled alien eggs: pluots, apriums, and apple pears (Asian pears). One team member called out, "Are these some type of Franken-Fruits?" The room erupted in laughter.

So are they Franken-Fruits? Have these fruits been incubating in the dungeon of some crazy scientist, while smoke and bubbling elixirs fill the room? We can rest at ease, as these deliciously sweet fruits are merely the end-product of cross-pollination and not genetic engineering. It would be similar to mixing a white and red rose to get a pink rose.

Pluots (or plumcots) are a hybrid of plums and apricots and were first sold in 1989. Californian fruit breeder Floyd Zaiger is attributed with developing the pluot and aprium. He practiced crossbreeding of the two fruits for several generations before the pluot finally emerged. There are now approximately 20 varieties of these fruits including: Candy Stripe, cherry, Dapple Dandy, and Dinosaur. Apriums, while also a hybrid, are 75% apricot heritage and 25% plum. Their fuzzy skin resembles the soft exterior of the apricot.

Then, there are the apple pears, also known as Asian pears or sand pears. The apple pear has been grown in the U.S. since the Gold Rush days. According to Kingsbury Orchards, Chinese miners planted them in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Apple pears are round, with a white crunchy flesh like an apple but the taste of a pear. These designer fruits are ready to eat when harvested – no need for additional ripening.

See Information about Availability, Storing & Preparing Pluots and Apriums

Try substituting pluots and apriums in your traditional plum and apricot dishes and Asian pears where you’d use apples or pears. You can also use them to make jams, fruit breads, and purées. And they can be grilled or used in a stir-fry dishes.

Alicia Brown MS, RD, LD
Health and Wellness Marketing Manager
United Supermarkets / Market Street

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