Do Plums Go Bad? How Long Do Plums Last?

Plums only grow a few months out of the year and they grow in large numbers, making them a tempting summer treat. Before you decide to buy up a bundle, however, you need to know how quickly they go bad and how best to prevent this.

Quick Answer

Plums, being a soft bodied fruit, can go bad in as little as three days on the counter and will only last up to five days in the refrigerator, but can last up to a year in the freezer. This is because plums are constantly ripening, even after they are picked, and once they reach a certain point in the process, they start to go bad because of this.


Because of how fast they go bad, knowing how to handle plums is essential if you want to buy them.

Do Plums Go Bad? How Long Do Plums Last?

Plums can go bad in a matter of days if you are not careful, so you need to know not only how to preserve plums but how to ripen them properly.

How Long Do Plums Last Outside

In a pantry or cupboard, plums will generally last two to three days depending on how ripe they were when you bought them and how carefully they are stored once you have them.

In order to keep your plums fresh, you will need to take some steps to make sure your plums aren’t exposed to damage, such as from direct sunlight or pests that might lurk in your kitchen.

Since plums can only be ripened outside a refrigerator or freezer, you should also know that it can take one to three days for unripe plums to ripen in the pantry.

How Long Do Plums XYZ Last in the Fridge

Putting plums in the refrigerator helps to slow the ripening process down and can extend the life of your plums up to five days, nearly twice as long as they last outside the fridge.

The refrigerator helps keep plums fresh by slowing down the chemical processes that make plums ripen, but this can only delay the ripening process for so long.

It is important to note that you should not put unripe plums in the refrigerator since this will not only slow down the ripening process but it will also cause the plums to not ripen properly, making them hard and bitter.

How Long Do Plums Last in the Freezer

Unlike the refrigerator, the freezer can almost completely stop plums from ripening, letting them last from ten months to a year in the freezer easily.

Due to how delicate plums are, however, you need to make sure they are stored in a dry, freezer safe container to make sure the extreme cold doesn’t damage the fruit, so be sure to get any air and moisture out of the bag before storing your plums.

Also like with the refrigerator, the freezer can prevent your plums from fully ripening if you try to freeze them before they are ripe, leaving them tough and bitter tasting.


Plums can both ripen and turn bad in a matter of days, even in the refrigerator, but can survive up to a year in the freezer in the right container.

How To Tell If Plums Have Gone Bad / How To Know Plums are Fresh

Ripening is a major part of determining how fresh plums are, as they continue to ripen even after they are picked and sold. Because of this you can buy unripe plums from the grocery store and ripe plums can go bad in a matter of days if you are not careful, so it is vital to know the different stages of ripeness in plums.

Unripe Plums. When a plum is not ripe it will feel incredibly firm, almost hard to the touch, and it will have a green or yellow coloration on the outside. As the plum ripens its color will change and the skin will soften, particularly at the far ends, so check those areas first to see if a plum is getting ripe.

Ripe Plums. Once a plum is fully ripe its skin will become soft and change to a darker color, either blue or purple depending on the specific type of plum you bought. The more a plum ripens, the sweeter and juicier it becomes on the inside, so this is also a good way to gauge the ripeness of a plum.

Bad Plums. As plums start to go bad their skin will shrivel and wrinkle while also becoming incredibly soft to the touch, almost oozing when you squeeze them. Because bad plums become so soft, they are also vulnerable to bruising and breaking easily, as well as being infested by pests.

How to Store Plums?

How you store plums depends on whether or not they are ripe, since different methods of storing can either slow down or encourage the ripening process. If your fruit is unripe, you will want to encourage the fruit to ripen, but if the fruit is already ripe you will need to slow down the process if you want to keep your plums fresh.

Unripe Plums. Unripe plums can be left in a pantry or on the counter as long as they are not exposed to direct light, heat, or moisture, as these will cause the fruit to go bad. Be sure to put the plums in a bowl or container to keep them from touching any unclean surfaces, as this can also cause plums to go bad.

Ripe Plums. Once your plums are ripe you should put them in an airtight container like a plastic bag and put them in either the refrigerator or the freezer for long term storage. This will slow down the ripening process and extend the life of your plums, so be sure to check your plums regularly to see how ripe they are.

Can You Freeze Plums? How?

There are many different ways to preserve plums long term, depending on what you want to do with the plums once you thaw them out. The two primary methods, however, are whole freezing and dry freezing, both of which can keep plums fresh for up to a year after placing them in the freezer.

Whole Freezing. This is a simple process of putting whole plums in a dry, airtight, and freezer safe bag before squeezing any extra air out and putting the bag in the freezer. As long as the bag is sealed and dry on the inside the plums will safely freeze overnight and can last up to a year in this state.

Dry Freezing. This method involves pitting the plum and cutting it into wedges, before placing the wedges on a baking sheet and freezing the wedges. Once the wedges are frozen through, they can be bagged the same as whole plums and stored for later use, with dry frozen plums being particularly good for drinks like smoothies.

How to Thaw Plums?

Like with freezing, thawing plums is a relatively straightforward process of placing the frozen plum pieces in the refrigerator overnight to thaw out.

It should be noted that you don’t need to completely thaw plums in order to enjoy them, as semi-frozen plums are still edible and have a unique flavor compared to thawed plums.

Frequently Asked Questions About Plums’ Shelf Life

Since plums continue to ripen even after they are harvested, there are a lot of questions one can have about how to properly keep and use them, as they can go from unripe, to fresh, to rotten in under a week. This article will take two common questions about plums and answer them below.

Can you make plums ripen faster? Yes, you can make plums get ripe faster by placing them in a paper bag and rolling it shut around them. The paper bag is strong enough to hold the ripening gases of the plums in while being porous enough that the plums won’t go bad too quickly, making them ideal to speed up the ripening process.

Can you grow plums at home? Yes, but it is an extremely difficult process as plums grow on trees and require specific environment conditions to grow, as well as a lot of care. Plum trees need a large, open garden space with an even, temperate climate and loamy or clay-based soil, meaning that growing plums at home is a difficult and time-consuming process.

Wrap Up

Plums can go bad incredibly quickly, since they are constantly ripening and can quickly spoil unless you take steps to slow the process. Depending on how they are stored, plums can last either a few days in the pantry or refrigerator, or up to a year in a freezer.

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