Saturday 19 August 2006


greengage damas dronet

I've been doing plums. It's a thankless task. First you pick them, then you wash them, then you check for maggots. To begin with I was removing the stones at the same time but the recipe I found in the Farmhouse Cooking book suggested you could remove them during cooking, so I started leaving them in. Trouble was it was about 1 a.m. when I finished preparation and I couldn't face staying up any longer so I thought I'd give them a quick boil up to stop them fermenting and do the rest in the morning. Of course they cooked in the residual heat over night and all the stones sank to the bottom.

Next day I put them back on the heat but that was a mistake, because I was busy making tea and attending to cats and when I went back the bottom was burned quite badly. So then I had a lot of very pulpy wet plum puree, filled with stones and black bits. I spent an hour sieving to get the stones and burnt bits out and then running it through my new food mill (11 euro, LeClerc). It’s not going to win prizes at the WI but this batch turned out a pleasantly flavoured and well set spread. I'll try again more carefully and probably with a smaller quantity next time. I had a full big pan, about 9 litres and I think that was probably half the trouble.

Interestingly, although I've said before that the plums are all the same they are not. I have tentatively identified them using Robert Hogg’s book the Fruit Manual (ISBN 1-904078-08-7) The ones near the woodshed are greengages, Reine Claude flavour, small, juicy, quite green even when fully ripe. I would confidently identify it as Reine Claude or Greengage but according to Hogg the flesh should be free from the stone and these do not separate easily unless the fruit is almost overripe. The plum near the tractor shed has egg shaped, yellow mature fruit, a drier texture and the stone is free. The closest match in The Fruit Manual is Damas Dronet. I think these plums would dry well, and I wish I had a drier but there’s always next year. The one near the coypu field has round fruits which are ripening yellow with a red speckle, almost like an apricot but it's not of course. This may be Drap D’or also known as Mirabelle Grosse. There is another tree, in the hedge behind the gite/studio building but the weather today discourages forays through wet grass.


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