Plums, greengages and damsons

 Plums, greengages and damsons Key facts Damsons, greengages and mirabelles are also members of the plum family, with wide uses in cooking from pickling to preserves and wine. The dried plum, or prune, is a great source of fibre and known for its laxative effect.

I have a small Victoria plum tree in my garden in Suffolk, and I love eating them straight from the tree in late summer, giving them a faint squeeze to see which ones are fully ripe, then eating just a few each day for breakfast and lunch until they’re all gone.

There are several other varieties of home-grown plums, all suitable for cooking or eating raw when fully ripe.

Greengages, because of their colour, are deceptive – they can look unripe and forbidding but taste very sweet. I like to cook both greengages and plums in a compote of Marsala wine.

Damsons are my favourite members of the plum family. The true damson is small and oval, almost almond-shaped, with dark indigo-purple skin, covered in a soft bloom and bright-green, sharp-sour flesh that when cooked with sugar, produces darker, reddish-purple juice. The secret of the damson’s utter charm is that because it’s a sharp fruit its flavour is not killed by sugar, so damson jam remains perfectly tart and not over-sweet.

 
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