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Plum role for the Pershore festival.

IF you have a taste for the sweeter things in life then Pershore is the place to be.

And if your sweet tooth is particularly fond of juicy, purple fruits, the launch of the region's first new plum in nearly 100 years should be enough to get your blood sugars rising.

The annual farmers' market and plum festival will kick into action in the Worcestershire village tomorrow with the debut of the Pershore Emblem.

The Emblem has been nurtured by expert Ged Witts and is the first new Pershore plum since 1902 to come out of the area famous for its fruit and veg.

The 71-year-old retired builder grows fruit and flowers in his gardens and allotments for a hobby and has done for more than 40 years.

But he is adamant that the discovery of this tastier and juicier plum was purely by chance.

'I have had a plum tree in my garden for 13 years and have just looked after it very well and pruned it regularly,' he said.

'But until the tree bears fruit you can't tell what it will be like and whether it will be edible.'

However, this particular tree was the bearer of good news and those who have tasted its delights say that the Emblem is sweeter and juicier than others from the region.

Pershore has been renowned across the globe for its plums ever since the first one was discovered growing wild in 1827.

The Yellow Egg plum was the first to tantalise the tastebuds of the native Pershore people and is still hailed today as a very good culinary fruit.

The purple plum followed suit and is also renowned for its uses in the

kitchen for pies, jams, desserts and as an accompaniment to meat.

And now the Emblem plum, which is delicious straight from the tree, will ripen later than the Purple and Yellow Egg variety, meaning a longer season for those passionate about plums.

The festival is in its fourth year, but this is the first time it has been combined with a market, supported by Wychavon District Council, where local farmers will be selling fruit, vegetables and dairy produce, freshly-baked bread, pastries and fruit juices.

There will also be craft stalls, stalls selling plum-based food and drink, dancing and street performers when the fun starts at 10am on Broad Street.

Dave Shaw, founder and secretary of the Pershore Plum Festival, set up the Bank Holiday event to try to raise local interest in the fruit.

'I suddenly noticed all the rotting plums on the trees around Pershore and thought it was such a waste when we import so much fruit from the USA,' he said.

'We also needed a reason to market the town and as plums are traditional in Pershore it seemed the obvious thing to focus on.'

All fruit is hand-picked by the villagers and now even the younger generations are taking an interest in the tradition and heritage of the area.

'Lots of people love plums because they are so sweet and juicy and can be used in cooking as well as being eaten 'raw'. The Emblem is a great discovery for Pershore,' added Mr Shaw.

The Emblem looks set to knock spots off the other members of the plum family - and then Posh Spice won't be the only Victoria to have been beaten to the top slot recently.

Plenty of plum-based recipe ideas will be on display at tomorrow's festival but here's a taster from the Pershore Plum recipe book which will also be available tomorrow.

Pershore plum and

cream fool

Ingredients

11/1 lbs ripe Pershore plums, halved

4 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon of arrowroot mixed with 8 fl oz water

3 tablespoons single cream

Method

Mix plums, sugar and arrowroot with water in a large saucepan and simmer while stirring.

Reduce the heat and cover pan for 20 minutes until the plums are soft, stirring occasionally. Puree the plums in a blender and strain through a sieve into serving bowls. Spoon cream over the portions and serve.

sophie_blakemore@mrn.co.uk
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Author:Blakemore, Sophie
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 27, 2000
Words:680
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