In the natural world, we depend on birds and bees to carry pollen from tree to tree to create new seeds of life. When two trees share the same species or genus, horticulturalists can cross them to produce hybrid varieties that arguably yield deeper flavors and more robust physical features than the original breeds. That’s how the pluot was born. When botanist Floyd Zaiger famously crossed a plum with a plumcot — a plumcot being a 50-50 hybrid of plum and apricot — a succulent fruit that looks like a plum but has the hardiness of an apricot was born. Zaiger called it a “pluot.”
Creating a tasty new fruit that consumers will get behind is no easy task. It takes years for experimental trees to bear fruit and even then there’s no guarantee the fruit will taste good. Most new hybrids taste sour and lack flavor. When breeders are lucky enough to get it right, hybrids like the Splash pluot are born.
If you’re in Santa Monica on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday this summer, you can stop by the Murray Family Farms stand to try 16 varieties of pluots along with many other hybrids of stone fruit, including apriums, plumcots, placatoms, peacotums and cherems. A gold star to anybody who can say those names fast. Bonus points for rattling off the family trees of these fruits!
Luke LA pastry chef Joy Cuevas likes pluots in her cobblers because they retain their vibrant hues even after being baked.
Joy Cuevas’ Pluot Cobbler
Joy says that you can save the filling to enjoy at a later time since it will last 3 to 4 days. Store the graham cracker streusel and filling separately until you are ready to serve.
1 case of pluots, pitted and sliced into quarters
3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tahitian vanilla bean pods
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground all-spice
Graham Cracker Streusel (recipe follows)
Vanilla Ice Cream
For the filling: Slice the pluots into quarters, leaving the skins on. (They will break down during the baking process.) In a large pot, combine the pluots with all of the spices and cook until sugar has melted to a syrupy consistency. Do not cook the pluots for more than 5 minutes, as overcooking will result in a watery texture. After cooking the pluots, immediately transfer the filling to a 4-inch cast iron pot, then bake for 15 minutes at 325°F.
To serve: Top the pluot filling with the Graham Cracker Streusel and finish off with a scoop of ice cream.
Graham Cracker Streusel
2 cups golden brown sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 lb unsalted butter
300 g honey
4 tbsps ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325ºF.
Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl and mix by hand. Then, line the mixture thinly and evenly on a baking pan. Bake in an oven for 10 to 15 minutes at 325°F. Allow the streusel to cool completely before breaking it apart by hand.
Note: To speed up the process, you can also cool the pan in the fridge. Also, if you prefer a finer streusel texture, you can use a food processor to break down the larger chunks.