Mirabelle Plum: Nature’s Little Gumdrop

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mirabelle plums nature gumdrop
Mirabelle plums: Orchard candy for the picking

I like to try out fruit trees like some folks enjoy trying on shoes. So many fruit trees, so little time, and with each success, failure has likely played its part. As with shoes, you don’t ask a loafer to go hiking, or a sandal to play basketball, nor do you ask a fruit tree to grow where it’s not intended nor happy with the elements.

mirabelle plum branch

Of all the fruits, I grow, I’d have to say apples and plums are the most adaptable and at home in the maritime Pacific Northwest growing season. So far the tree has withstood heavy winter rains, summer drought, and far-from-optimal conditions for spring pollination, and yet it produced well in its third year here—a year where Mirabelle plums dangled off the branches like little gumdrops looking for a candy dish.
mirabelle plums handful

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In France, the mirabelle plum enjoys a cult status, and is as welcome a summer treat as sweet corn, peaches and watermelon are in the U.S.  The snack-size, freestone plum, not too sweet, not too tart, can be eaten out of hand or used in several culinary iterations: jam, brandy, and baked goods for starters.

mirabelle plum pit peach

Next to a peach or a yellow egg plum, the pint-size Mirabelle plum blushes in comparative size.

yellow egg and mirabelle plums

I’ve listed some resources regarding the Mirabelle plum, from mail order nurseries to favorite recipes. You may wish to consider one for your backyard orchard.

Mirabelle Plum Nursery Sources (mail order)

Mirabelle Plum Recipes:

Growing Plums

18 COMMENTS

    • Eileen, do you have room for a plum tree? 😉 They are self-fertile, so you don’t need to plant a separate variety to achieve a fruit set. Or I could just make it my business to send you some each summer. Well wishes!

  1. Tom,
    Your pics made my mouth water! I, too, am a fruit tree addict. Have you heard of CRFG? It is a group in California that promotes the propogation and growing of all those rare varieties we are about to lose. Not sure if you have a similar outfit in Washington. Many of the regional groups (ours in January) hold Scion Exchanges after fruit tree pruning, where anyone can come and get all the free “sticks” they want to graft onto their trees (apple, stone fruit, citrus, figs and more). We also teach grafting and propagation. Join us in Santa Rosa in 2017! (or let me know what you’d like and I’ll send you a stick or two…). We also do fruit tastings! I think the Festival of Fruit is in September as well, so simply no end of trouble once you get started…but plums really are the best!

    • I have heard of that wonderful group. In fact my brother used to live in Healdsburg, CA, and I had big envy on what could be grown in your area. The roses alone were the size of softballs, and the peaches, um um um, and then I would see citrus. Not sure what you can’t not grow there just shy of a coconut. I may have to head down to Santa Rosa for a visit to your scion exchange. Thanks for the info and kind words! Tom

      • I am just reading an older bio of Luther Burbank, ‘The Wizard of Santa Rosa’ and creator of, obviously, the Santa Rosa Plum. Apparently before he moved to SR and started his nursery/plant breeding business, nobody in the are grew much of anything except wheat for cattle! He pushed prune orchards especially because they shipped well, but he was more or less responsible for the fruit industry in that area. Prune and apricot orchards now mostly long gone, obviously, paved over for housing and Silicon Valley biz. I have had Santa Rosa Plum on my list of trees to order this fall for my new and still bare garden, and I see I will have to add Mirabelle to my list. Thanks also, Tom, for a post a while back where you mentioned an amazing book, ‘Grow a Little Fruit Tree’ by Ann Ralph. I had been feeling overwhelmed (and doomed) by the small size of my new yard — so many fruit trees, so little space. But after reading that, I have a MUCH longer list of trees to order (rubbing hands together in anticipatory glee). So thank you — over and over again — for this post and so many others.

        • Thank you Kathy for saying such kind things and supporting me along the way. The blog’s been a fun journey, learning from all parts of the garden and the world. And I love Luther Burbank, but I do curse him on occasion for introducing the most invasive, albeit pie-berry plant, known the Pacific Northwest, the Himalayan Blackberry.

  2. We have a Mirabelle plum (came with the house) although I wonder now if it’s a hybrid because our fruit didn’t have as much red speckling as yours. Anyway I wish I’d seen this post a month ago when I canned 50 pounds of them and was looking for recipes. I’ll bookmark it for next year. Cheers from White Salmon, WA.

    • I fear it’s not really hardy enough for Anchorage; it’s on the border of its zone limits at 5b. You could give it a try and protect it by wrapping and mulching the first few years as it’s getting established. You check with local garden groups in Anchorage and see if anyone has had luck growing one. Try GardenForum, lots of feedback here by locals who know their area and climate in relation to gardening. http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums
      Good luck!

  3. Funny you should mention said plum, Tom. Beginning of the year we pilfered some overhanging a footpath from a vacated house (Sure, sure. That which is forbidden, nicked bounty always tastes the best😊Guess my lineage) and made two small pots of jam. Wow! After a Google search or four I managed to find the variety and ordered it from Tassie in June. The bare rooted Mirabelle arrived a few days after I read your blog along with a Stayman’s Winesap and a Brillianz apricot. Running outa space fast. 😕. Btw enjoying In Tall Clover ever so much. Funk perhaps a little hmm for my taste but interesting and something different to listen to. Got out my Vince Jones CDs after Everything Happens to Me. Sigh!Keep up with the broadcast, Chook. You are such a natural.

    • Thanks Jacqui, sounds like you’re planting quite a garden of ‘eatin’ – awesome! I’m going to try some apricots in my greenhouse, just for fun and in the hopes of growing a fruit I love, in a climate that does love it. And thanks for the radio show kudos, you know it’s fun and certainly I’m no professional, but it’s a community radio station and hopefully, I’ll keep getting better, especially with encouraging words like yours. And as for “funk” well i’m back to jazz and folk, and Americana for the upcoming shows. Warm regards.

  4. OMG. Look at this ad that popped up next to your blog post!

    Oh, well, I guess the link didn’t work. But it is for a hair care product made with (I guess?) Mirabelle Plums! ‘Mirabelle Plum Healthy Growth & Max Hydration Biotin Hair Mask’ for Fine, Weak, and Very Dry Hair. Gotta get me one a’ them trees now!

  5. Oh wow! I’ve just found your website this evening, after devouring my first-ever slightly-crunchy Forelle pear – and now I find you discussing a plum I’ve never heard of, developed in Geneva, NY, about 20 or 25 miles west of where I live! Now I have to find a Mirabelle tree! I think I also need to find a bigger piece of ground with a lot fewer black walnut trees on it – like NONE!

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