In 2010 a group of local interested folk from Ludlow Slow Food group were successful in getting the Shropshire Prune to be accepted in the Slow Food ‘Ark of Taste’. The Ark of Taste, also known as 'Forgotten Foods' operates to protect and further promote ‘endangered’ food and drink products around the world.
The group are working to raise awareness of this most delicious autumn fruit. Our goal is to protect and nurture the Shropshire Prune by encouraging food producers, retailers and consumers to identify the fruit by its variety, just as apples are identified by their variety. We will also encourage individuals to plant their own trees, and fruit farmers to plant Shropshire Prune orchards.
The Shropshire Prune used to be common in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Montgomeryshire within orchards and as a hedgerow tree. Shropshire Prune trees are a distinctive feature of the local landscape. Many Shropshire Prune trees were planted in the 19th Century to provide dye, however, this use no longer exists.
In terms of flavour, the Shropshire Prune is the essence of ‘plum’. The plum is versatile and is excellent in both sweet dishes such as jams and jellies as well as savoury dishes such as chutneys and relishes. The Shropshire Prune is also used to make a range of alcoholic drinks such as damson wine, damson liqueur and damson gin.
Why Am I Forgotten?
- Due to the lack of demand for Shropshire Prune dye, the trees have not been planted on a large scale and many orchards have been neglected.
- There is no significant commercial culinary use for the Shropshire Prune
- Knowledge of this variety is more common amongst the older generation and there is a danger that knowledge may be lost.
If you would like to have a go at identifying a possible Shropshire Prune Tree or fruit - please use our Identification Guide.
Learn more about the Shropshire Prune, where you can also find some delicious recipe ideas at Catherine Moran's blog or from the Slow Food Ark of Taste. You will be able to buy a Shropshire Prune Damson tree, specially grown by local nursery Frank P Matthews, at Ludlow Food Festival 13 - 15 September and taste ice cream made with the Shropshire Prune by booking a place at the Gelato Village Slow Food Taste Workshop at the Festival.