Monday, August 22, 2011

Erik the Fruit, not the Man:)

Erik means plum in Turkish. Can (pronounced chan) Erik is a kind of plum which I've only seen in Turkey. They are not like any other kind of plum. Eric is an American name used for males, also the name of one of the vampires in True Blood. So you see Eric is Erik in my mind. They sound very similar. Whenever I hear the name Eric I automatically think of Erik and wish I had some to eat. Funny but it wasn't one of those American guy names I was fond of because I keep thinking of Erik the plum, not the guy. And they are so delicious, the fruit Erik I mean:) Especially the kind Can Erik is harvested only in early Spring for a short period. So in Turkey, we can eat it only once a year. I lived without Can Erik for 13 years in US, occasionally some Turkish markets would import it, but coming all that way it wouldn't taste the same really. Still was great to see the real Erik, not Eric or the regular plums in markets.
By the way I'm not the only one, most Turkish people I would say are fans of Can Erik and can't wait to have some once a year. They are sold in markets now, but also they're a great street food. You just pop it in your mouth, suck and swallow the juicy flesh and spit the pit out (I mean in a container to throw away later, not on the street). Of course best to wash them before eating since its hard to imagine organic and street food being related but while on the street I say it's ok to pop in some risk...
Once, one of my friends, even more of a Can Erik freak than me told me that she was bringing some Can Erik from Turkey and since plants including fruits are not allowed to pass through customs in US she was caught and was told to let them go! Oh No! She was so upset, she actually sat there at customs and tried to eat as much of Erik as possible before letting it go to waste. I mean come on! What else could she do, obviously she isn't a terrorist trying to bring in a toxic plant or something. It's food and it's going to waste!
Anyway, I wanted to write about Erik the plum, especially Can Erik before the plum season is over. There are no more Can Erik now, it was all eaten by June, but we still have some ripe red plums in season.
Note: I ate the most Can Erik I possibly can this year, the year I moved back to Turkey and had dreamed of Erik for 13 years:)
What is so special about Can Erik? These cute golf ball size green hard & juicy plums are not only nutritious but also delicious, full with a unique sour flavor. This Can kind of plum is actually the unripened plum which is why it's so tart and sour. But plums are one of those rare fruits that can be consumed before ripened. Best consumed when chilled and some people like it with salt (to try it with salt you would eat the plum as you dip it in a small container of salt with each bite). I personally like them the way they are, and would recommend eating without the salt or just a few with salt since too much salt can cause bloating, and worsen heart and lung problems.
The online Turkish store Tulumba describes it as: This special plum (Erik) is like nothing you had before. It has a unique tart and sour taste and, unlike other plums, it is very hard. Its fans can't wait for it to arrive each season which usually starts in mid-April and ends in mid-May. The April batches are smaller and the size grows gradually throughout the season.
So when April arrives you can order them from Tulumba or ask for them in a nearby Turkish store if you don't live in Tukey.
How nutritious? Well I actually couldn't find scientific facts on the nutritional quality of specifically Can Erik, but plums (Prunus domestica) in general are low in calories, high in vitamin C, fiber (with the skin of course), and is a good source of vitamin A, K, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and potassium. They are also a good source of antioxidants which help prevent cancer and fight against anemia. The more ripe the more antioxidant. They shouldn't be eaten with current kidney or gallbladder problems because they are high in oxalate which can cause oxalate crystals related to kidney stones. There are 2000 varieties on this planet, mostly known as either Europe originating plums (originated near the Caspian Sea before the Romans) or Japanese originating plums (originated actually in China). They are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond, and are considered "drupes," fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds. They come in a range of colors, best known for red, green, or purple plums.
When plums are dried, they are known as prunes, and when dried they are more concentrated in fiber which can be more effective in treating constipation (with a glass of water).
So, enjoy a bowl of plums now...and remember April is the season for Can Erik, and check out your nearest Turkish source!


  1. Eric is an 'American' name?! no it isn't! Its Norse! oooph ya!!!