Right at the start of August I got a message that a local garden had small plums ready for picking – would I like to go round? I was in two minds about this – the previous day I had been painstakingly picking cherry plums and, as it was still early in the season, I suspected this tree would be more of the same. Lovely though these are it had taken me an age to collect enough to work with and I wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about repeating the exercise. However the garden was very close to me and my curiosity got the better of me.
How glad I was that it did! The tree was not a cherry plum at all but a huge Mirabelle, laden with golden fruit.
The Mirabelle is a type of plum which originated in France and is much better known there than in the UK. Although the fruit is small it is renowned for being one of the best-flavoured cooking plums and is commonly used in French patisserie. There are a number of different cultivars but the most widely grown is Mirabelle de Nancy, which I think was the one I had been lucky enough to come across. And, to my delight, I found that the wonderful gold of the skin and flesh was retained in the finished fruit cheese.