Sunday 19th August set off in the car to go to Walsgrove Farm near Pershore to pick plums. I was most interested in Yellow Egg pershores becuase they make incredibly delicious jam. Unfortunately there were not many there and those that were there were not easy to spot. Their yellow green colour acts as an excellent camouflage against the leaves and they also appear to be quite tucked away behind the leaves. Hmmm Plum Detective! Had a lot more success picking purple pershores and picking is part of the enjoyment of preserve making, especially plums. The trees are shaped like a canopy and the first
thing to do is to dive under the umbrella. Immediately there’s a sense of how the plums sweep from up high to almost touching the ground: from here you can see what condition they are in, where the wasps are & how many plums there are. I came here a year ago and there were no Purple Pershores but lots of Burbanks, this year the Burbanks are not ready and also disappointingly there are no Katy apples but thankfully some Beauty of Bath, which are a Somerset/ Mendip apple. The weather has had such an impact on growing this year. Monday 20th August
Lots of decision making to-day: I’ve got around 20 kg of plums and I need to decide, what I’m going to make and how best to preserve the fruit, so I can continue to make over a period of time. Go to Pam Corbin’s Preserves book and look at the advantages of bottling fruit over freezing it. Obviously it’d be so much quicker to freeze the fruit but quite often the texture is changed, becomes much softer and loses it’s shape. Last year I bottled some gooseberries and I noticed a difference when it came to making them into jam: it took longer to get a set and I overcooked the first batch because of this. On the plus side the juice from the bottled gooseberries was delicious- just like a cordial which I guess is what it is. So it’s bottling to begin with and thankfully I have some flagons to put the fruit in. From sterilising the flagons to washing the plums to making the syrup to prepping the plums hands are busy and the mind is free. The plums are like beautiful dark stones and handling them reminds me of picking up stones on a walk, rolling the stone around in your hand, deciding this is the one I’ll take home, & into your pocket, a small memento of the much larger landscape or country. It also makes me think of Edmund de Waal‘s book The Hare with the Amber Eyes: the part where he talks about the relationship between an object & the hand which holds it.
I’ll look it up later in the meantime I go & get a favourite stone collected on a treking holiday in Morroco. It’s a similar fit to the plum, which has a stone inside it & as children we would count these stones whilst saying the rhyme Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief- who will I be? The sound track which accompanies Fiona Tan’s video work Countenance includes this rhyme.
*please see Markets for latest produce for sale.