Let me introduce The Cherry Plum  (Prunus cerasifera).

Tasmania might have been known as the Apple Isle, but I swear there were as many cherry plum trees as apple trees when I was growing up in the 1950s..

The fruit is only the size of a tombowler marble; bright red with golden flesh.

Sun ripened straight from the tree they weren’t too bad as I recall, until you ate too many and  ended up with a stomach ache. But cooked was another matter.

Oddly enough we didn’t have a tree, but some elderly relatives living nearby did. There were famously tight fisted, but even so they were happy for my parents to pick buckets of bloody plums.

To make matters worse, we ate most of them stewed and served with ghastly junket. My mother bought junket tablets from the travelling Rawleigh man for just that purpose.



Junket was served with our cherry plums.


The junket was always sprinkled with nutmeg, as in the following photo.


Oh good grief, plums and junket was our most despised dessert, usually eaten  at  lunch after Sunday School for some reason.

The only plus to eating stewed cherry plums was that game we played with the pips to determine one’s  destiny in life.  It didn’t occur to my sister and I that the list was rather male oriented;

You could always swallow a pip or two if the rhyme didn’t work out well. Yes. there was a risk of a cherry tree taking root in your stomach and emerging through  your ears, but never mind. Who wants to be a beggar or a thief?

Once the fresh plums had been stewed it was time get out the old Fowlers kit and make sure we had enough of them bottled to last us all year!

Bottled cherry plums


Plum jam was even worse and my darling mother made great pans of it.  It might have been acceptable  in jam tarts, boiled puddings  and the like, but as a filling for school sandwiches it was beyond the pale. To be fair, I’m not sure Mum actually inflicted this horror on us, well not unless she was  truly desperate.

Look at this little piece in the Tasmanian Mercury. Oh dear, those poor Wilcox kids.

(MERCURY, JAN 20 1948)

OK, against my better judgment, here is a recipe for cherry plum jam.


  1. I’m still laughing! We had a lovely eating cherry tree in our Surrey garden throughout the 1960s. However, the house opposite had a ‘male’ cherry tree which of course never produced fruit – so they chopped it down. That was the end of our tree too ‘cos that too then stopped bearing fruit. We had no option but to move house (and ended up in Maidenhead)

  2. Ha, yes. Hated the dreaded Junket, and horrible Custard.

    I grew up on King Island and there were no fruit trees around and not sure Mum would be
    silly enough to make it.

    We had great tea chests of ‘stuff’ arrive which from my memory was made up of huge tins
    of Plum Jam, Apricot Jam and Peaches in Syrup. YUm, enough for a year?

    Once a mistake was made in the order and 144 (a gross = 12 dozen) of Tomato Sauce bottles arrived instead
    of 12, many of them broken.
    I’m sure there was a lot of other goodies in these tea chests but plum jam and peaches were all I was interested in.

    I have made strawberry jam in the past but now I make jelly, such as quince, blackberry or apple.

    Cheers Sally

    • Pauline

      Oh my word, I’m still chuckling about the tomato sauce. What an interesting place to grow up. A friend here in the Blue Mountains makes lovely crabapple jelly.

  3. Funny, but I used to love Junket and even bought the tablets long after I was a child. I have no idea if you can buy them today. Then they had the powder to make the pudding. I used those too. I used to sell Rawleigh products starting in about 1997 for maybe 10 years, but they didn’t have the junket at that time. I had never heard of cherry plums.

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