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Saturday, 11 August 2018

National Plum Day

Apparently today is National Plum Day here in the UK....the first one ever.

Of course people in Pershore, Worcestershire will be celebrating it as part of their Pershore Plum Festival - they are famed for their plum harvests dating back to mediaeval times.

Plums are one of those fruits that I didn't care for much as a child, but over the years I've become an avid fan of such a delicious fruit. Especially over the last three years since I took on another small strip of an allotment . It may be small but it contains a damson tree , a Victoria plum tree and one of unknown origin along with a number of apple trees.

So why do I like plums so much? There's a gutsy depth of flavour...which can be both tart or sweet. They're such versatile fruits which can be used in so many different ways, and they're good for you. Packed with antioxidants, they're good for lowering blood sugar (they have a low glycaemic index score ) lowering blood pressure, not to mention helping your intestines, heart and even your bone health.

Two weeks ago I was the allotment, and the damsons were still as hard as bullets. I thought they'd be ready in perfect time for the village show on 1st September as usual. I was wrong though  - last week I checked and the wasps were circling the tree, a sure sign that they were ripe, or  some were even  over ripe.

I picked at least twenty pounds of damsons , and gave about three pounds away immediately to my neighbour on the next plot. Once home, my plans for the day were rearranged as dealing with the damsons had to take priority.

I decided to try a new recipe for damson jam first. This is a very soft set jam where the fruits are whizzed to a pulp first in a food processor before cooking in the preserving pan.

I made a litre of damson ice cream for the first time, whisking away the ice crystals in an ice cream container and popping back in the fridge at intervals. This was very fresh and fruity, and I was rather taken by it. But not the first time, did I wish I had a proper ice cream maker. One day, one shall be mine...!

I digress....I froze about five pounds in a sugar pack, made a litre of damson gin and then wondered what I could do with the rest.

I posed that question on twitter and instagram with a photo of my damson haul.

My friend Laura merely suggested more gin, but that's not surprising , she loves making any type of fruit gin. Then Antonio got in contact...he and Daniele run Gelato Village in favourite geleratia outside of Italy. I've written about them in the past  here

Antonia hasn't made damson sorbetto before but thought he might like to try. So on Monday I put three kilos in my wicker basket and dropped them off at the geleratia, only a few minutes walk from work.

The next morning I received a call. "It's ready " said Antonio, and I could tell he was pleased with the flavour when he sent this tweet.

Well, I couldn't wait until I finished work that evening. to taste my very first plum sorbetto.
The colour was deep and appealing, the taste sublime.

What alchemy and magic had Antonio conjured up to transform the damsons which only the day before had been growing on my tree?

I got some of the other customers to have a quick taste.....the comments ranged from "Wow!" to "This is so fruity" to "I think this is the best flavour today."

Feeling so proud of my plums and admiring Antonio's handiwork, I was then given a huge box full of sorbetto to take home and put in the freezer, and the rest was sold.

My husband I have been eating damson sorbetto every night since Tuesday. A pudding which is not only damn tasty but healthy - so that's why we're having some tonight too, to celebrate the first ever National Plum Day.

I've been back on the allotment today though, and picked pounds more damsons..........


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