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    Plums are fleshy, smooth skinned stone fruits which have been cultivated for thousands of years. These flavorful, juicy fruits can be used in a wide range of dishes, from delicate fruit pastries to fruit salads, and they are typically readily available at most markets in the summer, when they are in season. Plums are grown throughout the temperate zones of the world, with hundreds of varieties under active cultivation from tiny yellow versions to monstrous lustrous purple ones. Fresh plums can be eaten out of hand, added to fruit salads, or served with things like yogurt and granola. Plums can also be baked into pies and other pastries, canned, or turned into preserves like plum jam. Dried plums, better known as prunes, have some infamous associations for many people in the West, since they are often recommended to people suffering from constipation, thanks to their high fiber content. Dried plums are also used extensively in Asian cuisine, where they may be candied, ground into pastes, and included in both sweet and savory dishes. Archaeological evidence suggests that the plum may be one of the oldest cultivated fruits, with only the apple having an older association with humans. Thousands of years of cultivation has yielded a rich array of varieties which come in a range of colors and sizes. In all cases, plums are characterized by crisp, juicy flesh with a flavor which ranges from sweet to tart, and many cultivars acquire a faintly cloudy surface as they ripen. Plums also have a deep groove along one side.