Plum jerkum

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Plum jerkum is a type of fruit wine or cider produced from plums, in a similar manner to the way in which cider and perry are made from apples and pears respectively. The drink is native to the north Cotswolds[1] and particularly to the county of Worcestershire, where plum cultivation was once centred on Pershore and the Vale of Evesham; it was also found around Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire.[2][3] Jerkum was known as a traditional product of Worcester along with potted lamperns and curd cheesecakes.[4]

A 19th century reference, again from Worcester, suggests that it was often taken mixed with cider to reduce its strength: "plum jerkum is [...] the fermented juice of plums, and is a very heady liquor. In the country they often mix it with cider, and thus moderate its effect [...] A man who was brought before the Pershore magistrates on a charge of drunkenness confessed he had a drop too much of it. Perhaps he took it neat".[5]

The jerkum made around Chipping Campden was made, for preference, from a dark bullace-like plum found in the area's villages: however it ranged in colour from "a deep purple to a claret red", and in flavour "from a sticky sweetness to a sparkling tartness" depending on the type of plum used.[6]

The Worcestershire author and farmer Fred Archer mentions jerkum several times in his stories of rural life,[7] as does John Moore in his books set around a fictionalised Bredon Hill.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Greensted, M. The arts and crafts movement in the Cotswolds, Sutton, 1996, p.97
  2. ^ Brill, Edith (1973). Life and tradition on the Cotswolds. Dent. 
  3. ^ Hart-Davis, Duff (1988). Country Matters. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-79460-8. 
  4. ^ Edwards, T. Worcestershire, Paul Elek, 1949, p.12
  5. ^ "Crowquill's Jottings, Berrow's Worcester Journal, October 17, 1891, p.5
  6. ^ Brill, 1973, pp.52-3
  7. ^ e.g. Archer, F. Hay days: memories of country life in the 1920s, Sutton, 2001, p.126