I'm a bit fed up with seeing rock hard, imported plums on sale in supermarkets. What’s the point? They sit in the fruit bowl taking ages to ripen, then they go off after a few days.
What’s wrong with our home grown plums? We grow plenty of varieties here, from the well-known Victoria to the lesser-known greengage. In France, green plums like Reine Claude (named after Queen Claude) and little mirabelles will be prominent in markets and on menus, while on home soil we tend not to use them unless the proprietor happens to have trees in his or her garden and feels obliged to preserve the fruit for the out-of-season months.
It doesn’t have to be this way – the uses are endless, from snacking on, eating with cheese, using in a game sauce, sticking in puddings, and making a cheap and healthy addition to a salad.
Greengages were apparently introduced to England in the early 1700s from Armenia when Catholic Priest John Gage sent some trees from France to his brother William Gage, who lived in Hengrave Hall near Bury St Edmunds. The labels got a little tattered in transit and the gardener labelled up the new fruit trees as “Greengages”. Here’s how you can use these delightfully named little critters.