Wednesday 29 August 2012

Foraging for Wild Plums

Strolling through a walking track in South Buckinghamshire, I am amazed at the sight that greets me.  Up ahead, the trees that line the track are filled with colourful fruit in varying hues of yellow, green and red, which hang like jewels from their branches.  My husband, John, tells me that these are wild cherry plums, that you can pick them and yes, you can eat them.  Foraging for fruit, he explains, is a pretty common activity in this part of the world.  Not so common, evidently, since these trees are so laden with fruit, they are practically begging for someone, anyone, to come pick them. 

I've never done this before, "forage", so I'm feeling a little guilty as I hesitantly pluck a rather plump and juicy looking plum off the tree.  It feels like I'm stealing from someone's orchard. Like I'm partaking in illegal activity for taking something that I haven't paid for. That feeling, however, passes pretty quickly, as I am soon caught up in the excitement of John trying to grab at some of the branches that are way above our heads.  Its all laughter and giggling (mostly by me) for a while, as we attempt to dislodge the fruit that is well beyond our reach.  Soon, I too, am enthusiastically scanning trees on the lookout for low bearing fruit that is ripe but not overly ripe, selecting and picking the near perfect ones and carefully placing them into our carrier bag. 

A bagful of assorted plums later, we are satiated. We have enough plums to make a few bottles of jam, and even with my limited experience of jam making, I'm willing to give it a go.

Back home, I separate out the yellow cherry plums from the green ones from the red/purple ones and boil each batch up with sugar, the result of which is a lovely yellow jam and red jam.  The yellow jam reminds me of apricot jam and the red plums taste a little between a cherry and a plum. 

Its early days yet, but somehow, I think I'm going to become rather fond of this whole "foraging" thing......

Want to read more about wild plums? Try these....
Hank Shaw (U.S) on Wild Plums - Everywhere, and nowhere
Fiona Neville (UK) on Foraging for hedgerow fruit - wild (Cherry) plums, bullaces and wild damsons

Recognise some of the fruit in these pictures? Then, please leave us a comment.

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