Part plum, part apricot, and totally confusing
Summer is primetime for stone fruits. 'Tis the season for peaches, plums, apricots, and pluots to appear on grocery-store shelves. But hold up. WTF is a pluot? You might not have ever heard of this stone fruit before, but chances are good that you've probably eaten one. That's because, as Pat Tanumihardja wrote for NPR in 2009, "Pluots now make up a majority of the plum market." At first glance, a pluot looks like any other plum or nectarine you may have seen. But a pluot is neither a plum nor a nectarine. In fact, as you might be able to tell from the name, a pluot is a hybrid of two different stone fruits: a plum and an apricot.
Making a hybrid of two stone fruits sounds like the result of some crazy mid-century lab experiment, but calm down. Pluots are not genetically modified, though they are the result of human manipulation. Back in the 1980s, a farmer-geneticist named Floyd Zaiger created the pluot by naturally cross-breeding plums with apricots, and the rest is history. These days, there are several different commercial names and varieties of pluots—including the Dapple Dandy, the Mango Tango, and my personal favorite, the Dinosaur Egg. Many of these were also created by Zaiger and his team over the decades.
A pluot, however, is not a plumcot—even though the names sound very similar. Only adding to the confusion is the fact that both pluots and plumcots are hybrids of plums and apricots. The difference between a pluot and a plumcot comes down to the genetic blend of plum and apricot in the fruit. A plumcot is half-plum and half-apricot, while the pluot is more plum than apricot, about 75 percent to 25 percent, respectively.
So the taste of a pluot is more like that of plum than apricot, though it still falls somewhere between the two. A staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in 2009 that the pluot tasted like a plum but has the "mouthfeel of an apricot." Kelli Foster explains the taste of pluots for Kitchn by writing, "Pluots don't have the bitter taste that you can sometimes find with plums."
Really, the best way to figure out what a pluot tastes like is to eat a pluot, so it's a good thing stone fruit season is finally here.