Wild plums, or Mirabelle plums, can be found in hedgerows in the UK particularly in the south and the midlands – I believe they aren’t as widespread in the North. They are small compared to other varieties, more like a large grape or cherry (in fact another name for them is “cherry plum”), and they can either be golden or quite a bright pink-red. There is a stretch of country lane near where Mark’s mum lives where we tend to be able to find them, although last year they were cut back quite dramatically so we thought it best not to pick any. This year they have been growing really well so we were excited to gather some for a batch of wild plum jam.
How to find Mirabelle plums
The plums grow in hedgerows but aren’t always easy to spot because they quite often hide amongst the leaves. Either look high up to the top of the hedges, or on the ground where you’ll see red and yellow pops of colour (and possibly a few splats too) where some will have fallen off or blown off in the wind. Plums are generally ready to pick around between July and September in the UK.
Remember My Golden Rules of Foraging, plus these extra tips for plums:
- Wasps love these sweet, juicy morsels so be careful not to get stung and try to see whether the fruit is free of them before you touch any.
- Flies like to lay their eggs in plums so avoid taking any that have flies on or have holes in the skins.
- Plum trees can grow to reasonable heights so care should be taken when trying to reach higher fruits. One method of harvesting plums is to hold a cloth sheet underneath the tree and shake the tree trunk. We didn’t have a sheet and didn’t find shaking the trees to be as effective as we thought. In the end we found a long stick to whack them as well which was rather fun.
Cooking with wild plums
Well, there’s no real difference between wild plums and cultivated plums, so all of the plum classics are just as applicable here. The plums pictured made some rather lovely, bright red jam, and you can also eat Mirabelles fresh or use them for a compote or crumble. You could even use them to make plum wine which I might have a go at next year if we can gather enough.
What is your favourite thing to do with plums?
This blog is not intended as a foraging or identification guide. Always use a trusted guide when foraging and comply with local laws.