Christine McFadden Cookery and Food Writing
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Christine McFadden with students
Alternative Pancakes
A Taste of Rabbit
Beyond Carrot Cake
Bountiful Blackberries
Celebrating Celery
Cherries are the Only Fruit
Chuck, Flank and Shank
Cooking With
What You’ve Got
Cool Curries
Delectable Duck
Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?
Drupe Fruit
Excellent Eggs
Feel the Fear and
Cook it Anyway
Give Swede a Chance
Glorious Globes
Glorious Greens
Golden Orbs
Heavenly Herbs
King Cauliflower
Lovely Lovage
Meat of Kings
More Than Marmalade
Of Cabbages and Kings
Partridges and Pears
Pumpkins and Winter Squash
Remarkable Medlars
Roasting Chestnuts
Rhubarb Renaissance
Ruffian Roots: Celeriac
Sensational Sea Buckthorn
Sicilian Utopia
Strawberry Fare
The Not-So-Humble Parsnip
Time for Pie
Time to Talk About Eggs
Watercress – a culinary hero
We Won't Go Until
We Get Some
Fruit cookery classes South West

Christine's blog

This is the place to enjoy Christine's food-related musings – from seasonal food and food producers to cooking tools, food markets and gastro-travel. You'll also find some must-try recipes and invaluable tips and techniques.

Drupe Fruit

The somewhat doleful term ‘drupe’, used by botanists when referring to stone fruit, seems a bit of a misnomer for the voluptuous plums, greengages and damsons currently piled high in farm shops, greengrocers and supermarkets. There is a cornucopia from which to choose, including those most seasonal of fruits – greengages and damsons.

Greengages are a superior kind of plum – smaller and sweeter with a lovely fresh green colour and youthful bloom.  In France they are known as ‘Reine Claude’ and are classified as plums; it is a peculiarly British convention to differentiate them. The flavour is unique – rich and honeyed with a very faint hint of pear drops. When very ripe and sweet, an enticing bead of moisture drips from the base of the stalk, as if the fruit was about to explode with sweetness and juice.

Damsons are a wild relative of the cultivated plum. They are small and oval, with dark purple skin and firm yellow-green flesh. The flavour is sensational – intensely acidic yet sweet and plummy at the same time.

Writing in World War Two, cookbook author and farmer’s wife Lucie G. Nicoll concluded, “Although one enjoys uncooked damsons after the age of reason and before the age of discretion, the fruit is much better cooked.” I do remember as a child unwisely eating damsons plucked from a hedge, and I also remember the ensuing stomach upsets. Mrs Nicoll certainly had a point.

Once cooked, damsons come into their own, but need a copious amount of sugar to tame the mouth-puckering tartness. They are a natural candidate for preserves and can be transformed into the most sublime jellies, jams, chutneys and pickles, or even damson ‘cheese’  – an firm, intensely flavoured relish served in gleaming slabs with cold meats.

Though plums and greengages are wonderful eaten straight from the fruit bowl, they also make superb tarts and pies. Team them with cobnuts in Greengage and Cobnut Crumble or try them poached or stewed, either whole or in halves or quarters. Cook them carefully until just tender but don’t let them disintegrate. Better still, try them in an end-of-summer barbecue: wrap in thick foil with a knob of butter, a spoonful of brown sugar and a pinch of ground cinnamon. The juices turn into a lovely buttery syrup for pouring over the fruit.


© Christine McFadden, September 2023

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