Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'm Plum Worn Out


When we bought our piece of property 28 years ago, it was an old prune orchard. Some of the trees came down to build our house, others were toppled by wind storms and a few were hit by UPS trucks or friends who said "No problem, I can turn around in there, just fine..."

What few original trees we have left on our 2 1/2 acres are known as Italian prune-plums. When they are commercially canned, they are always called 'plums.' But here in Oregon, we know better. Or at least, we like to think we do ;)

Italian prune-plums, sometimes called Empress plums, are technically Prunica domestica. They are a small, dense, egg-shaped fruit, with free stone pits and yellow flesh. Whether canned and labeled plums, purchased at market, or eaten fresh and warm off of one of my trees...they are absolutely delicious.

I once had some delivery men argue in my driveway, as they were helping themselves to the fruits of the tree's labor. One man asked "Are these plums?" The other man said "No, they're prunes." Man #1 says, "They can't be prunes, prunes turn into raisins." "No, Man #2 says, Raisins come from grapes." "Well," says Man #1, these aren't grapes."

I suspect one of the men was truly a Californian.

shown:
my first picking of prunes, otherwise labeled plums, but really prune-plums
a couple of stacks of my easy to make potholders on the side

3 comments:

  1. Fascinating... I always thought prunes were begat from plums as raisins are begat from grapes. Live and learn.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ha-ha! Cute story! Reminds me of how my husband always tried to convince our kids that chocolate milk came from chocolate cows. My first job, before I was old enough for babysitting, was picking up the prune-plums off the ground after they had been knocked. And this orchardist had not bothered to smooth the ground under the trees, either. I got so much per box. I can't even remember how much, it was such a small pittance. This was in N. California in the early 50's. By the way, in Virginia, these same plums are called Italian plums. They make wonderful pies and crisps. For some reason, we seldom find these California fruits in the local stores here in Redding.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Michele, and I say "Amen"! I love the fruit you describe, can't be beat warm in your hand *VBS* I've never had it warm off the tree, but it is a tasty treat no matter what.
    How lucky to have such a wealth of goodness right there in your yard. You, of course, are in the Wilamette Valley, how can I have forgotten that? Dahhhh!
    The potholders are gorgeous also! They look very healthy, happy and ready for anything you cook up! Hugs, Finn *VBS*

    ReplyDelete

Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.