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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom



Oklahoma Fruit of the Month: Plums

Sand Plum Jelly
by Del Cain
In cabinet rows
like jars of sunrise
that trap the taste
of sand hill summer,
the Plains' gift
to the patient
waits for the invitation
of breakfast biscuits.
On winter mornings
its glow and tang
sing of July,
of the sun,
of a land
that gives but
few luxuries,
and those are never free.

Sand plums grow wild along Oklahoma roadsides and are harvested all summer, from June to August. Many people make them into jellies or preserves. Native Americans sun-dried the plums for winter consumption. Oklahoma plums are eaten by several species of birds and mammals. The dense purple thickets stand out in the winter landscape and provide shelter for wildlife.

Little Jack Horner sat in a corner
eating his Christmas pie
Stuck in his thumb, pulled out a plum,
and said, "What a good boy am I."

Plum pudding, a traditional Christmas dessert from medeival England, is a steamed or boiled pudding which has never contained plums. In the 17th century, the word "plum" referred to raisins or other fruits used in cakes, puddings, etc. This use probably arose from the substitution of raisins for dried plums or prunes. Plum pudding does contain raisins, which are called plums only when used in plum pudding.

Traditionally in England, small silver charms were baked in the plum pudding. A silver coin would bring wealth in the coming year; a tiny wishbone, good luck; a silver thimble, thrift; an anchor, safe harbor. It was also traditional for everyone who lived in the household to simultaneously hold onto the wooden spoon, help stir the batter for the pudding, and make a wish. During the Puritan reign in England, plum pudding was outlawed as "sinfully rich."

Sugar plums are another old-fashioned Christmas treat we hear about in holiday favorites like Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Nutcracker. The term sugar plum once applied to nearly any small, round treat, from dried fruit to hard candy made from sugar and coriander. Simple sugar plum recipes contain nothing more than nuts and dried fruit, wholesome ingredients that are a welcome alternative to some overly sweet holiday treats.

Writing Prompt

Write a poem about plums.

Plums (1/2 cup, sliced)
amounts per serving
% daily value
calories from fat
total fat
total carbohydrate
dietary fiber
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Source: Centers for Disease Control
Play With Your Food: Plums to Prunes and Back Again

Bring prunes to class and explain that they are dried plums.

  • Students will measure the prunes.
  • Students will measure water or juice before pouring it over the prunes to cover them.
  • Students will predict how much of the liquid will be absorbed by the prunes overnight.
  • Students will measure the prunes and liquid the next day to test their predictions.
Be a Food Explorer: What is It?

Bring an assortment of dried fruits: raisins, figs, dates, prunes, apricots, etc., along with their fresh equivalent.

  • Students will examine the fruits and match dried fruits with fresh.
  • Students will conduct a taste test and vote on their favorite dried fruit.
  • Students will graph the results.
Richards, Jean, A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds, Millbrook, 2003. (Preschool)
Introduction to seeds, their purpose and growth.
Stone, Lynn, Fruit (Plant Parts), Rourke, 2007. (Grades PreK-2)
Beautifully photographed book about fruit is basic resource for teaching pollination and seed development and the difference between a fruit and a vegetable.