Can you eat overripe plums?
In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Can you eat overripe plums?” and discuss how to tell if plums have gone bad. We will also discuss how to properly store plums and discuss how long plums last. We will also tell you if you can freeze plums or not.
Can you eat overripe plums?
Yes, you can eat overripe plums but it is important to make sure that the plums have not gone bad before eating them.
Plums which are overripe may be mushy or too soft and overly sweet but as long as they are not rotten, they are safe to consume. Some people might find the texture to be unappealing so in that case, you can use them to make purees, sauces, smoothies and desserts (1,2).
Overripe plums can go bad pretty quickly as the mushy texture makes it easy for the microorganisms to invade them so they should be consumed as soon as possible.
How to tell if plums have gone bad?
You can tell if plums have gone bad by looking at different signs related to its appearance, texture, and smell, for example (1,2,3,4):
- Look for any discolorations on the plums. If you see any discolored spots such as they are bruised or sunken then it is a sign that the plums have gone bad.
- Wrinkly or discolored skin is also a sign of spoilage.
- Look for any growth of mold as well. Mold can appear as fuzzy gray or greenish growth or bluish or greenish spots. Such plums should be thrown out immediately.
- Look for any changes of the texture as well. Slimy or gooey texture indicates that the plums have gone bad.
- Give it a sniff test and see if it smells fine. An off odor or a sour smell is an indication that the plums have gone bad.
- Oozing liquid can also be a sign of spoilage.
- Look for any infestation of insects as well.
What happens if you eat spoiled plums?
Consuming spoiled plums may lead to harmful consequences to human health. If it appears that the plums have gone bad, you should thoroughly inspect it before eating it since eating spoiled or tainted plums can cause food poisoning because it contains dangerous organisms like E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Clostridium perfringens (5).
Food poisoning signs and symptoms include (6):
- stomach cramps
- hospitalization may also be required in severe situations
When in doubt, trust your instinct and discard the plums because it’s always better to be safe than having bad symptoms after eating spoiled plums.
How to properly store plums?
Plums should be properly stored at 0 °C (32 °F) with 90 to 95% relative humidity. If you have bought slightly unripe plums then store them in a fruit basket on the countertop or in the pantry until they are ripe. You can also place them inside a paper bag to speed up the ripening process (7,8).
Another way to speed up the ripening process is by placing other fruits like apples and bananas with them inside the paper bag. The paper bag traps the ethylene gas produced by these fruits which is responsible for ripening (8).
Once they are ripe, you should place them inside a ziploc bag or an airtight container and then store them inside the fridge.
How long do plums last?
Shelf life of plums depends on how you store them and whether they are ripe or not.
Plums usually ripen in about 2-3 days when kept on the countertop. You can speed up the ripening process by placing them in a paper bag with bananas or apples (8,9).
Ethylene gas produced by these fruits help speed up the ripening process. Once ripe, plums can last for about 5 days in the fridge or even for a week when stored properly (10).
If you place them in the pantry then they will spoil a lot quicker than this.
Can you freeze plums?
Yes, you can freeze plums. Since they do not have a very long shelf life, you can freeze them if you have them in bulk so that they remain fresh (11).
For storing the plums in the freezer, cut them up into slices and place them onto a sheet pan. Let them freeze completely in the freezer and then transfer them into a freezer safe bag or an airtight container and freeze them again (11).
In this brief guide, we answered the question “Can you eat overripe plums?” and discussed how to tell if plums have gone bad. We also discussed how to properly store plums and discussed how long plums last. We also told you if you can freeze plums or not.
1. Ferrada, E.E., et al. Identification and Characterization of Botrytis Blossom Blight of Japanese Plums Caused by Botrytis cinerea and B. prunorum sp. nov. in Chile. Phytopathology. 2016 Feb;106(2):155-65.
2. Janisiewicz, W., et al. Culturable bacteria from plum fruit surfaces and their potential for controlling brown rot after harvest. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 76:145–151
3. 11. Kanupuru, P., Uma Reddy, N.V. A Deep Learning Approach to Detect the Spoiled Fruits. WSEAS Transactions on Computer Research, 2022, 10:74-87.
4. Janisiewicz, W.J. Culturable bacteria from plum fruit surfaces and their potential for controlling brown rot after harvest. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 2013, 76:145–151.
5. Collignon S, Korsten L. Attachment and colonization by Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Typhimurium, and Staphylococcus aureus on stone fruit surfaces and Survival through a simulated commercial export chain. J Food Prot. 2010, 73(7):1247-56.
6. What You Need to Know about Foodborne Illnesses. FDA, 2022.
7. Watkins, C.B., Nock, J.F. Production Guide for Storage of Organic Fruits and Vegetables. NYS IPM, 2012.
8. The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks. Agricultural Research Service Agriculture, Handbook Number 66, 2016.
9. Kumar, P., et al. Edible coatings influence the cold-storage life and quality of ‘Santa Rosa’ plum (Prunus salicina Lindell). J Food Sci Technol. 2018;55(6):2344-2350.
10. Álvarez-Herrera, J.G. Effect of Storage Temperature and Maturity Stage on the Postharvest Period of ‘Horvin’ Plums (Prunus domestica L.). Ing. Investig., 2021, 41.
11. Silva, C.L.M. Home Freezing of Fruits and Vegetables. In book: Frozen food science and technology, 2008.