Yum! It is the season of the plum. And our local trees are laden with tempting red fruits. However, I’ll have to wait a little longer for my favourite greengage plums.
There is much controversy regarding the origin of the plum. Some botanists claim it is native to China then became popular in Japan. But the plum from which our most common varieties originated is European.
Peaches had something of a cult following in China — its original habitat — where for poets, sculptors and painters it was a symbol of immortality. This despite the fact that it grows on a short-lived tree.
The peach is often associated with icecream because when the great Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba gave a party at the London Savoy, Chef Escoffier created the famous Peˆ che Melba in her honour — a swan carved of ice set in the centre of poached peaches on a base of vanilla icecream.
The apricot also originated in China but became established in Iran and Iraq where it is often served with lamb. But there’s nothing better than a ripe apricot straight from the tree.
Unfortunately, most stone fruit offered by fruiterers and supermarkets are picked slightly green to prevent bruising while travelling. Ripen them at room temperature, then refrigerate.