eating greengages

wheat stubble


Phew. Harvest has finished. After days of checking every weather forecast and stopping and starting between showers, the wheat was finished at the weekend and the beans yesterday. This morning, while this year’s harvest was loaded onto lorries to go to the central co-operative grain store, next year’s oilseed rape crop was sown in the cleared fields as the cycle starts off again. On a rather smaller scale, Beth and I have been out along the hedgerows picking blackberries for Slamseys Blackberry Gin. There is one field where the blackberries ripen at least a fortnight ahead of the rest of the farm so it’s good to make a start. A rather less frenzied harvest than the wheat harvest.




In the garden the plums continue to ripen. The cherry plums have all been eaten, the damsons are almost ready and although there are still Czar plums on the tree, we’ve lost enthusiasm for eating them because the greengages are at their peak.  Who wants to eat a boring plum when the greengages are ready? This has been a bumper year for greengages and looking out from the kitchen window, I’ve noticed that everyone walking from the yard makes a detour to pick and eat a few greengages en route to the back door. I could eat greengages for breakfast, lunch and supper and not tire of them in their short season. Sweet, juicy, delicious little greengages.

I’ve been making loads of greengage compote and greengage crumble; some is eaten straight away and the rest frozen. Sometimes I cook the greengages swiftly on the hob with a little water or roast them in the oven but more often than not I use my mother’s technique for dealing with greengages or plums. Because sometimes mothers know best. Simply put a kilo of very ripe greengages into a bowl, pour over boiling water and leave for a minute. Then tip the fruit into a bowl of cold water and slip the skins off. Cut the fruit in half, pop out the stones and lay the fruit in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with a dessertspoon of sugar, cover with cling film and put in the fridge for an hour or two for the sugar to draw out the juices. I vaguely remember Mum’s instructions were to leave them for longer, but I don’t plan far enough ahead for that. Kind of cooked but not cooked.

When I was explaining what I was doing to one of my daughters who’d wandered into the kitchen, I told her it was just like skinning tomatoes. “Who on earth skins tomatoes?” she asked in a scathing tone. Well, sometimes I do. I like sandwiches made with skinned tomatoes, white bread, plenty of butter and a little salt and pepper. Skinned tomatoes are best because when you squash the sandwich, the bread soaks up all the copious juice. What do you mean, you don’t squash your tomato sandwiches? Didn’t you ever take tomato sandwiches on a school trip and pull out a warm, soggy and flattened sandwich? I rather liked them and always thump my fist on a tomato sandwich to recreate the effect.

greengage sandwich

While we were having this conversation, a lemony Madeira loaf cake was cooling on the table and it was but a short step before I’d cut two slices of the loaf  and made a Greengage Sandwich – greengages, crème patisserie and Maderia cake. I thought about cutting off the crusts but decided that was a step too far. Much better than a Victoria Sandwich (mainly because there’s almost as much filling as cake).

Almost as good as a squashed tomato sandwich.

27 thoughts on “eating greengages

  1. So can’t beat a squashed tomato sandwich. Yes I do it on purpose too. Bliss. Our plum trees are over loaded this year and we have lost a branch. Very sad, but since we still have some in the freezer from last year we won’t go short. Need another week before they are ready.

    1. My mother in law has a plum tree that’s lost nearly all its branches and the ones that are left are propped up, but it still keeps producing even though it’s also now distinctly on the lean. It looks as though it’s a good year for plums north and south this year.

  2. I don’t know what a greengage is at all. Can you give me a hint?

    I’m really liking how this template displays your beautiful photography.

    🙂 Emily Grace

    1. A greengage is a small sweet green coloured plum – I suppose you could call them dessert plums because they don’t need cooking. I like this template too – it’s got a tidy uncluttered feel which is how I wish my house looked 😉

      1. Don’t we all wish our homes looked like that. Purging stuff is actually on my to-do list for today. As my friend, Sara, says – free yourself! I intend to feel very free by this afternoon. 🙂

        Thanks for the greengage fyi!

  3. oooh, you may be converting me to greeengages! or at least that madieria cake sandwich is. i’ve never been a great fan of greengages, but maybe when they appear in our summer i shall be more open to them.

  4. Hi Anne,
    I never skinned tomatoes for my tomato sandwiches, but now I have to. Nobody in the US understands the art of sandwiching like you Englanders. And, your blog looks beautiful – I love it 🙂

    1. We do seem to eat a lot of sandwiches in this country, but then they are the perfect quick food. I wish I could make beautiful open sandwiches like I imagine they make in Scandanavia.

  5. Hi Anne, googled it and I am guessing greengages are plums, love this time of year. Life on the farm must be grand.

  6. We ate greengages for the first time this year, last week and they were wonderful, a greengage sandwich sounds delicious.

  7. Gorgeous greengages! I love them and it’s a shame they only seem to have a very short season. Skinning tomatoes (and other things) is one of those dilemmas that life might be too short for but actually sometimes isn’t! As with your sandwich! Enjoy both tomato and greengage versions! E x

  8. Loved this post. I like to skin my tomatoes as well 🙂 Glad you have harvested your wheat. There is a wheat field just down the road and it is now partially harvested. We had some sudden thunder storms that interrupted the farmers.

    1. There’s still quite a bit of wheat around our area to harvest and more rain forecast. Glad to know there’s fellow tomato skinners out there 🙂

  9. I have a million things to say! First off, lovely post. Now do tell me, what does a greegage taste like? I’ve heard of them before but we don’t get them over here (that I know of- and now this will be my quest for the rest of the day, thank you). And what a lovely sandwich filling in between your Madeira cake! Some of the best things are those unplanned off-the-cuff creations, don’t you think? Glad to hear that your harvest has finished… now for a glass of that gin! Happy weekend Anne 🙂 x

    1. Well, I’m not very good at describing taste – greengages are honeyed sweetness, very juicy and plum tasting (I’ll never make a food critic!). I agree, unplanned creations can be wonderful, in life as well as food 🙂

  10. I love your first photo – a really striking image. The farmers around here are still harvesting, so the fields are a mixture of waiting to be cut and stubble. We make exploding tomato sandwiches with crusty bread and cherry tomatoes – messy, but fun!

  11. I adore greengages. No I don’t, I ADORE them. And I skin tomatoes for sandwiches. And also when I chop them to mix them with quinoa and pesto. I think I may just have described supper. I’ll try the greengages your Mum’s way.

    Glad you got the harvest in before the rains came.

  12. There were greengages at my favourite farm shop the other day but I was distracted by the damsons, czar plums and Victorias. I will return tomorrow and buy greengages and make a compote of them using your method, thank you!. And yes to soggy tomato sandwiches -my mum’s favourite with lots of black pepper.

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