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Harvest starts for mirabelle plums

The sweet little plums are a speciality of the Lorraine region, which has turned them into a success story

GOURMETS have one month to enjoy this year’s crop of sweet mirabelle plums from Lorraine, which are about to hit the shelves as harvesting gets under way.

The small, round plums, of which 90% of the world’s production comes from Lorraine in the north-east of France, have a short season, which ends in mid-September. Fans say they are almost like a sweet.

The mirabelle is a success story for the region – the fruit had almost been forgotten, then the 1980s saw a major relaunch, with producers planting 1,500 hectares of new orchards. There are now some 250 producers specialising in them and they have become one of the staples of the French food calendar.

Mirabelles from Lorraine received the European IGP quality label in 1996, the first fruit to do so.

Look out for the logo certifying them as IGP Mirabelles de Lorraine. They have to be cultivated according to traditional, mainly organic, methods, with manure and other natural fertilisers preferred to chemical ones.

Worms, which aerate the soil, are encouraged, as are bees and butterflies. Chemical treatments for the trees are only allowed in the winter.

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