Cherry plums versus mirabelles

To blog on or not to bother?

I have decided to carry on bothering.

Because, in recent years, much of what I have assimilated and implemented in the place where I am has come from a very broad band of bloggers.

People who bother to blog. In whatever language. All of them blogging out of conviction and only the very thin minority blogging for remuneration of the financial kind.

I owe much to bloggers and have become convinced of the role (to be) played by alternative media in presenting  another side of any story. Because there are always two sides to every story. Which does not have to mean subscribing to either version but at least they point toward the third version: your opinion/independent thought/questions asked. Call it what you will, it is a real rarity where I am, both in time and place. George Orwell, Aldous Huxley: say no more.

And say no more I shall on this blog because I shall continue to keep politics out of it. Apart from the fact that the production and procurement of food have long since become a political act. Whether you realise it or not.

I digress.

As a promoter of pomology past and present it is time to set the record straight on cherry plums and mirabelles. I know, right up there on top of everyone’s priority list…!

The thing is, I keep hearing (town) folk here banging on about the mirabelles being ripe. In July.

And when I (the foreigner with still slightly accented German who is supposed to be a translator by profession, and not a wannabe fruit farmer – very unGerman, diverging from the trodden path…), presume to tell them that its the cherry plums that are ripe now, in July, I get told: “well, they look like mirabelles”.

Aaah… no.

Cherry Plums (Prunus cerasifera)


Ripen as early as the beginning of July, occuring in both red and yellow.

P1120228 (2)


The very first of the stone fruit to blossom in the spring.




Slightly milder than mirabelle plums, their stones are smaller and yellow cherry plums are far more uniform in colour than mirabelles. Cherry plums are great for snacking on or for use in summer fruit salads. They make a very good purée, too (much less acid than some of the later plum varieties) and I also juice them as the basis for mulled beverages in the autumn and winter.


Mirabelle Plums (Prunus domestica subsbp. syriaca)


They ripen only in late August, early September and have distinctive “red cheeks” where the sun catches them.

Somewhat stronger in characteristic flavour than cherry plums, mirabelles are a good preserving fruit (although also great eaten straight from the tree on a later summer’s day), and very popular with schnaps distillers. Which I am not, so my mirabelles end up in bakes and purées – where they are reminiscent of their prunus relative, the apricot (Prunus armeniaca).

Mirabelle Tart (2)


8 thoughts on “Cherry plums versus mirabelles

  1. I am not sure if we have mirabelles here in Australia. And cherry plums are usually found in old gardens where a tree has grown as a ‘wild’ child of some other variety. As children we used to eat them but they were very bitter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most of the cherry plums here are of the “wild child” variety now too, but we do have several trees planted on purpose in our orchard – old varieties in the interests of plant diversity 🙂


  2. Thank you for this. Cherry plums are common where I live in Aberdeen, and German and French people that I know usually call them Mirabellen/mirabelles when they see them so I had assumed that they were the same thing. They seem to be commonly conflated in the plant trade too. Another name for cherry plum is ‘myrobalan plum’, a name that I can only assume is related to ‘Mirabellen’.

    On the other hand I’ve been aware for a while that mirabelles are also described as P. domestica syriaca or sometimes classified in with damsons and bullaces. I had put this down to the regular rearrangements of the genus, but your descriptions make it clear that cherry plums and mirabelles are genuinely different things and that what I am familiar with is the former. Out of interest, do you know how far north true mirabelles can grow?


    • Greetings Alan in Aberdeen – so glad I could help on the cherry plums & mirabelles dilemma (and even more glad that another somebody was even interested in it!). How far north do Mirabelles grow? I don’t know is the simple answer. I do know that they grow as far East (in Europe) as Poland and Slovenia so I would expect that if they can cope with those kind of continental winters they should do alright in balmy Aberdeen? Your forest garden blog looks fascinating – I will be following from now on and am sure to learn a thing or two in the process 🙂


      • Thanks. I’m sure mirabelles would survive Aberdeen winters, but not so sure whether they would fruit successfully in Aberdeen summers. Gages and bullaces don’t do well here, so I suspect that it would be the same for mirabelles, but I guess there’s only one way to find out.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lucky, lucky you having stone fruit. These look delicious, as does the pastry. Please keep blogging … we need voices like yours out there. Thank you for your terrific contribution … and support of others, like me.

    Liked by 1 person

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