03 August 2010

Confiture de mirabelles

Day before yesterday, our neighbor rang the front bell. She was bringing us a big basketful of mirabelle plums from one of the trees in her yard. She was almost apologetic about giving them to us. «Dans certaines les oiseaux ont fait un trou, » she said, « et dans beaucoup d'autres tu vas trouver un petit ver. » — "Birds have pecked holes in some of them, and inside a lot of them you'll find a little worm." Or an insect larva of some kind, I'd say.

The plums are organic, in other words.

Plums pitted and macerating in sugar

Yesterday morning, CHM and I sat at the work table in the kitchen for a couple of hours and trimmed an pitted all the plums. Mirabelles are little golden yellow plums, with just a tinge of red on them when they are getting very ripe. There indeed were holes in a lot of them (birds or wasps) and worms in a lot of them too (wasp larvae, I think).

They look good enough to eat, don't they?

We trimmed and cleaned them all up with great care, and we ended up with 2.8 kg of usable fruit — just over 6 lbs. I added some greengage plums (reines-claudes) from our own trees to bring the quantity up to about 4 kg, and then I poured 2.5 kg of sugar over them and stirred them around. They are macerating in that sugar, which has now liquefied, and I'll make jam out of them this afternoon.

Plums are my favorite fruit for confiture. Cherries are a close second.


  1. I made plum jam yesterday also. No bugs in many of mine thankfully. I cheated though I used confiture sugar to speed things up! Diane

  2. Looks so delicious! Plum jam is my favorite.

  3. Ken, the little larvae are from a moth... not sure which [Susan will probably know]... the bricos sell a mastic/grease to paint round the trunk and stop the flightless females from crawling up into the tree.
    We've got the same in our Reinne Claude Greengages.
    The grubs pupate in the soil under the rotting plum.
    [There is no such thing as a vegetarian option if you grow organically]

  4. Now you will put the jelly jars that CHM saved for you to good use;-) My vote goes to cherry jam, but plum is also good. I like the prep part if....I have someone to talk to while I'm cutting up the fruit.

  5. diane, do your plum trees get sprayed with insecticides? That would explain the absence of "worms".

    Tim, from what I've read, the insects that lay eggs in plums are Sawflies, which are actually a kind of wasp. Maybe other insects do the same.

  6. Ken

    I hope that these sawflies are not like the Berberis Sawfly Caterpilars. I have 5 Berberis plants in the garden and 2 of them have been shredded and another one partially .

  7. Do you ever make chutney or something a bit sour to accompany meat?

    You life sounds so idyllic! Busy, but idyllic.

    Hungarians use plum jam for Kaiser Smarn, a sort of pancake with plum jam for light summer suppers.

  8. Hi Kristi, I've made Asian-style plum sauce, and that's good.

    The Beav, I don't know much about Sawflies -- only what I read on Wikipedia. But I know there are larvae in our plums. You just have to take them out. The trees seem fine.

    Hi Evelyn, I enjoyed cutting up the plums with CHM and W. We got quite a few trimmed up and pitted in the space of 2 or 3 hours. K.

  9. I thought the grubs in plums were from a small wasp (that is a wasp wasp, not a sawfly) but I've never bothered looking in to it. I'll quiz my entomologist contact at the Royal Horticultural Society and get back to you. The grubs in cherries are from a fly and the grubs in apples from a moth such as Tim describes, I believe. My apples and pears all have sticky bands to try to control this problem, but I don't treat the cherries and plums at all - just do as Ken does and scrape the grub and its poo out before cooking.


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