I got a call yesterday from Raoul. I have been meaning to get in touch ever since the butcher in Monmouth gave me his number. Anyway he called to tell me he had been picking Mirabel plums on the banks of the Wye and would I like some. Well as I am heavily into pickling right now and the damsons are still like little bullets I thought it would be fun to try them, especially as I had never heard of them. Not cheap tho' at £7.00 a kg but as I wanted to meet him and he said he was coming over to Ross and could drop them in it seemed like a good deal.
Good to his promise he turned up around 6.30 with the plums which he decided were a gift. They will make perfect pickles as they are small and round and are lovely delicate shades of creamy yellow and soft red. They are surprisingly sweet and very fleshy and juicy for a small fruit and have a tiny stone. In the boot of the car Raoul also had a heap of pristine apricot fragrant plump chanterelles gathered locally and a basket of fir apples grown by a neighbour and a tiny car vac which he uses to gather seeds in the woods.
He had parked under our yew tree which of course sparked off an immediate exchange on the yew berry which he suggested to my horror would make wonderful jam. I have always been led to believe the yew berry is poisonous but he insists it is the seed in the middle that is the offender and offered me one to eat. I refused. He ate one and enthused and then offered me another. My curiosity aroused I tried one and was amazed by the rosehip/raspberry flavour….but would I dare make jam?