Sunday, July 01, 2007

Prune Saint-Jean or Cherry Plum

These plums are the first ones to arrive on the summer market. They get their name from the fact that they are ripe for the festival of St. Jean, the third week of June. They are for sale only for a week or two.

I picked up a scoop on the way to meet a friend for coffee yesterday, knowing it was probably my last chance this year, and my 59 centimes went a long way. My friend and I made a pretty good dent into the lot when I put them on the table between us, but there were still a few dozen left that I carried home like a kid with a sack of candy. We had to finish them after dinner tonight because tomorrow they'll be too ripe.

They are like little sunbursts of flavor, with a sweet juicy inside and a nice pithy skin that you can chew on after you've sucked the inside out. Apparently, the tree for this fruit has in many regions been hit at the roots with a fungus and attempts are being made to salvage the variety with grafting, but success has been spotty. The man who sells them has been at the market every year right on time with his plums since we came to Lyon. We enjoy them fully, savoring each one, not knowing if he will come back with a harvest next year.



Blogger Katie Zeller said...

I've seen these at the market but had no idea they were so special.
If I see them again I'll buy some.
I had the first little plum off of our tree today - about the size of a golf ball. I hope the birds will let me have a few more!

9:37 PM, July 01, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, those plums reek sumptuously of summer on the page; I can only imagine them in the flesh! And they inspired a memory: the very first thing I ever baked by myself, without a recipe, was a plum tart with fruit from our tree out back. I have no idea what variety, but the tart was so good!
I was about 10 years old and the neighborhood boy I played with was somehow honed in psychically to my totally erratic baking 'schedule' (though I often made cookies) and showed up like clockwork, drooling for that tart! Even then, I could not believe he was so tuned in! And I remember being slightly annoyed because the tart was small and I selfishly wanted most of it for myself, after my family's portion! But of course I shared, and discovered that his delight was a great salve for my childish greed, LOL : )
I have a perfect taste memory of exactly that tart, right now! Who knew plums had such power! I do hope they are able to save the endangered variety in your post!

Also, I emailed my mother your recipe for the Vin de Noix - she has a walnut tree in front of the house which none of us has ever had nuts from because the squirrels are greater experts than we are with the harvesting schedule...But now! She has a way to sample something of the bounty without too deeply impacting the squirrels' winter supply! We are looking forward to this, so thank you for sharing your technique so beautifully!

1:07 AM, July 02, 2007  
Blogger Jann said...

Beautiful plums~ I do hope the man who sells them continues to show up at your market!

12:39 PM, July 03, 2007  
Blogger Nick at The Tracing Paper said...

What a wonderful post and photo! Cherry plums are amongst my favourite wild fruits, locally abundant in Suffolk hedgerows. In England they ripen rather later - from mid July to late August. The Tracing Paper on cherry plums

11:03 PM, July 24, 2007  

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