April marks the start of one of my favorite fruit seasons – plum season! Thanks to Belize’s lovely tropical weather, several varieties of plum trees blossom each year. To me, plums cater to all my taste buds; crisp and tart when green which are great for eating with some salt and pepper on the side, and then succulent and sweet once ripe.
I grew up eating plums and even today, it’s a fruit I gravitate to – especially the green ones. Back home in the Orange Walk District, there were plenty of plum trees in our yard. Each year starting as early as February, the trees would shed their foliage in preparation to bear fruit. By the beginning of March, the first fruits of the season would begin to sprout and by the middle of the month our trees would be brimming with plums ready for the picking. Several of my afternoon hours were spent on the biggest plum tree in the yard, picking and eating the fruit fresh from the tree.
Throughout the season, street vendors across the country sell plums portioned in plastic bags with salt and chili pepper. With each bite you take, dip the plum in the salt and pepper mixture for a taste you can’t resist. Everyone from children to adults enjoy eating plums, be they green or ripe, with salt and pepper or without.
As plum season comes to an end and the fruits on the tree ripen so quickly you can’t eat them fast enough, it time to make plum sweets. A simple yet delicious way to preserve the plums long after the season is over, “Dulce de Ciruela” is a long-standing tradition kept in homes across Belize. While I do prefer eating my plums green, Dulce de Ciruela reminds me of home and is an excellent sweet and sticky snack. Using just two ingredients, this tasty treat can be made by anyone who has a sweet tooth for plums!
Dulce de Ciruela – Plum Sweet
1lb ripe May Plums
3/4lb White Sugar
Place plums and sugar in a non-stick pot over medium heat
Stir constantly, until sugar starts to caramelize and the plums release their natural juices
Once the sugar completely melts, the plums will turn in a caramel brown color in a sticky sauce
Let cool and enjoy!