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As for where you get Green Plums (you can get them from any mob drop), I recommend throwing 3 - 4 hours of your life away in Solea Ant Hell just mindlessly kill bats/red ant lions. You might even score some treasure chest keys for fun. Don't forget to equip Master of Ingredient Hunting!
Nono, don't waste so much time sitting in ant hell, that's boring and inefficient. If you want to get 5 plums in like less than 10 minutes, speed through saga 4 and get to the ritual part of the questline. Just spam AoE attacks into the grouped/respawning mobs and you'll get drops left and right. Master of Ingredient Hunting really helps speed up this process, as you said in your post.
Honestly, people are just voting to keep it hardcore because they probably don't want their grind in the past to be simplified in the future lol. I honestly think that the amount of grind associated with this game (especially with life skills) is insane, and it keeps me from wanting to play it. I've been playing nonstop ever since the AP Training stuff because it makes the game tolerable, as I don't have to spend DAYS trying to rank up a skill once with only 2x talent boost. If they allow AP Training with mastering, then there's another part of the game being more tolerable already.