In August we took a trip to the Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire to catch up with our latest suppliers, Fruits of the Forage.
The Fruits of the Forage team invited us to one of their adopted orchards. We went along to see what they get up to, to learn about plum picking and to learn about their unique approach to preserve making.
Pershore and the Vale of Evesham – Victoria Plums
Pershore and the Vale of Evesham were historical centres for plum orchards with many of the varieties we find today originating in this area. It was a fruitful afternoon, with nearly half a ton of plums picked that would have otherwise gone to waste. The main bounty were the Victoria plums, the pink and yellow ones seen in this picture.
The Fruits of the Forage team popped down to the site a few weeks prior and harvested a load of plums that were just right for jam making: pre-ripe, slightly yellow, and sour to taste. Plums at this stage are perfect for jam making because they contain a lot of pectin, the naturally occurring substance that helps jam to set.
During this visit, a few weeks later, the fruits had reached full ripeness, a darker pinky yellow, making them sweeter and delicious to eat off the branch. At this stage, the plums contain less pectin and are more suitable for making sauces as jams made with these plums won’t set as well. This batch is likely to be used for a new line of fruits of the forage plum bbq sauce. Here is Bertie introducing us to the Victoria plums and the importance of allowing fruit to ripen on the branch.
Video – Bertie on Victoria plums
Plum varieties – Pershore Plums
We joined the guys, filling a few buckets with plums, in between chats. Bertie introduced us to the numerous plum varieties in the orchard, including the Yellow Egg Plum, Purple Pershore and the ever popular Victoria variety. We learned about the local area, how it had been a centre for agriculture and a hub for plum production. The nearby town Pershore in Anglo Saxon means, “Forest of wild plums”.
Purple Pershore are plums specifically grown for cooking, being too tart to eat off the branch. When cooked down they produce a thick jam that can be sliced and is known as “fruit cheese”. Traditionally you would me made from quince and damson, but this new Purple Pershore fruit cheese will be a unique product, making the most of the strong flavour of the Pershore Plums harvested from authentic historic orchards where they were first discovered.
This is one of the things we like most about FOTF, they are always looking to create unique products that nobody else can make because they don’t have access to these historic orchards and the get up and go to go and harvest them.
Help us harvest fruit that’s left hanging
Fruits of the forage clearly love what they do, it is a part of their life and they even enjoy some creative writing on the subject of foraging. This video is of Freddy performing a poem that highlights the Fruits of the Forage call to action.
Their aim is to bring awareness of these old orchards, encouraging people to report areas of fruit trees that are left hanging. So much fruit hits the deck each year and FOTF want to take the opportunity to turn these derelict, abandoned yet laden orchards into productive centres for the production of new preserves.