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tahir

English plums

Seen Rivers Early and Herman about. Neither is fantastic but make a nice change from al the berries.
OP

Just bought some Opal plums from Sainsbury's. Some in the carton were picked a bit too green, but most are properly ripe and have the distinctive English plum flavour that the foreign ones never get near to.
onejohndog

Have inhereted a thirty >forty year old plum in the house we moved into in Feb only realised what this was last month as it started dropping small plums has still got quite a bit of fruit on it and i am just hoping it comes to something.Any idea when to pick plums as they are still quite small and mainly green up here in the north east.
OP

We are just getting into the English plum season, so the easiest way to tell is probably just to try eating some - I would guess another couple of weeks in the NE (my in laws are near Durham). Even if you have a cooking variety, you will still be able to taste the difference between ripe and under-ripe.

Colour is not necessarily a good guide since "green gages" are quite common in the UK, and these are green even when ripe (and reputed to have a good flavour). You will sometimes seem them in supermarkets, usually from France, and probably called something like "Reine Claude". The most obvious thing about a greengage is the shape - small, round, and definitely spherical. Most other plums in the UK are more of an oblong shape.
onejohndog

thats usefull as i half wondered ifthey could be greengages but they are not spherical and there is some tinging of purple, so i think they must be plums.
OP

In that case, Victoria is the most likely candidate as it is far and away the most popular garden variety in the UK (although if it is 40 years old then it might be something more interesting). Not the best for eating fresh, but very good for cooking with. (And in any case far better than those "plums" that you get in supermarkets most of the year which are not from England/France).

Here is a photo:

http://www.keepers-nursery.co.uk/product.aspx?id=VICTOR
Penny Outskirts

orangepippin wrote:
Colour is not necessarily a good guide since "green gages" are quite common in the UK, and these are green even when ripe (and reputed to have a good flavour).


I remember, when I were a lass, we always had greengages in season. Never see them anymore, which is a shame, as they tasted delicious Sad
sean

You need to move somewhere with a decent greengrocer's.
Penny Outskirts

sean wrote:
You need to move somewhere with a decent greengrocer's.


Definitely! There isn't even a greengrocer's in Cirencester, let alone a decent one!
OP

The easiest source of green gages will be the supermarkets, since the most ready supply comes from France (where they are called Reine Claude). Sainsbury's seem the most enterprising with plums, and should have some fairly soon. Obviously local would be better, but I think it is partly down to climate - gages need a bit more sun than ordinary plums.
chrissy

We're lucky to have a bit greengage tree, but not so lucky isnasmuch as it's too big to net, so the wasps will get the lot. They do have a wonderful flavour and stay very green.
marigold

I bought some greengages in my local greengrocer today - yum! The only English plums they had were squishy and very resistable.

As a teenager I loved the "mirabellen" that grew in my German friend's garden in Stuttgart - does anyone know if are they the same as greengages or something different? I'm sure they were smaller than the greengages you get here, but it was a long time ago Laughing .
OP

These are called Mirabelles in English, or cherry plums. They are related to plums but are a different species: prunus institia instead of our usual prunus domestica. They are part of the same group as damsons and bullaces. (Got this from the excellent Plums Directory by Martin Crawford).

The plums that are available year-round in supermarkets are also not the same species as our English plums, they are prunus salicina - popular with the supermarkets because they keep very well and can be transported without damage. Shame they taste like cardboard.
chrissy

This is good for ID-ing varieties Marigold. There are several Mirabelle.

http://www.webvalley.co.uk/brogdale/collectionplums.php
marigold

Thanks folks - maybe I'll plant one one day Very Happy .
tahir

orangepippin wrote:
The plums that are available year-round in supermarkets are also not the same species as our English plums, they are prunus salicina - popular with the supermarkets because they keep very well and can be transported without damage. Shame they taste like cardboard.


The next big thing moving on from those is the plumcot, a hybrid of those big round plums and the apricot, a spy tells me they're being grown commercially in Spain (ta Bugs Wink )

Mirabelles are extremely variable, tree to tree and season to season, my little bruvs garden has 2 trees in a good year they can be sweet and tasty but sometimes they're completely tasteless.
hedgewitch

We have greengages in the greengrocers shops round here (Derbyshire/Cheshire). The local shop has some for tasting as people often think they're unripe plums.
OP

Do you know if they are locally grown or imported ?
Chick-pea

Where are you, Hedgewitch? We're in Poynton which is in Cheshire, a kick of the bum from Derbyshire. But the border's fairly long isn't it? It's a lovely neck of the woods. I've never regretted moving here.
tahir

orangepippin wrote:
Do you know if they are locally grown or imported ?


Got to be French right now, even my way the gages are still hard.
hedgewitch

Chick-pea wrote:
Where are you, Hedgewitch? We're in Poynton which is in Cheshire, a kick of the bum from Derbyshire. But the border's fairly long isn't it? It's a lovely neck of the woods. I've never regretted moving here.


I'm in the High Peak so not that far away... I first had greengages from Stockport market!
hedgewitch

tahir wrote:
orangepippin wrote:
Do you know if they are locally grown or imported ?


Got to be French right now, even my way the gages are still hard.


I didn't check that, but probably not local. The 2 shops I use sell local produce for preference when available but do sell imported stuff too.
Bodger

Bought a tree labelled Bird Cherry fifteen years ago and for the last two years its produced Greengages.
We have a nice small crop on it this year which are not quite ready yet.
tahir

Well it's greengage season for sure now. Bought some Hubertus Sanctus in Waitrose the other day (from Tiptree) a nice dryish Belgian plum.
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