We have shared a lot of food, drink and laughter during this project either whilst working in the orchards, during training sessions, as part of our researches or relaxing socially after a day together.
Mention the word ‘orchard’ and we found that most people immediately thought of apples and cider, but people of the Three Counties created all sorts of other edible or drinkable delights: plum jerkum, perry, jams, preserves and chutneys, cakes and puddings both savoury and sweet.
Enjoying our foodie heritage
Plum Jerkum is a Worcestershire wine made from plums and often mixed with cider – a heady orchard mix responsible for many a misdemeanour.
The drink was commonly made in the Vale of Evesham and Cotswold areas, where apples and plums were grown together, but appears to have been little known outside the Three Counties.
The type of plum used varies, as does the method – some say it should be pressed like cider, others that it be brewed like wine – but all agree:
Plum jerkum is […] the fermented juice of plums, and is a very heady liquor. In the country they often mix it with cider, and thus moderate its effect.’
‘Crowquill’s Jottings’, Berrow’s Worcester Journal, 17 October 1891
Click here to find the recipe.
In trouble with the law!
Many a local has found himself in trouble after unwarily imbibing a spot of Plum Jerkum or even, plum & parsnip wine.
The following newspaper extracts show how amusing magistrates found this local affliction, even as late as 1949.
Click on the images to read the text. Each will open in a new window.
Waste not, want not!
Fruit in small traditional orchards can often go to waste because crops quantities and quality can be unpredictable. As part of our activity, and to try to avoid wasted fruit, we supported a pilot called ‘Trust Juice’.
The owners of participating orchards were paid a small fee for their fruit. Volunteers picked the apples, which were pressed commercially and then sold through local groups and charities. Any profits go toward the care and preservation of the traditional orchards and everybody wins!
Volunteers visited the pressing plant in summer 2017 to see how their fruit was transformed into tasty juice!