Plum jerkum

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Plum jerkum is an alcoholic drink produced from plums. It has been variously described as made in the same way as cider[1] and as a fruit wine,[2] although the terminology implies slightly different methods.

The drink is native to the north Cotswolds[3] 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.[4][5] Jerkum was known as a traditional product of Worcester along with potted lamperns and curd cheesecakes.[6]

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".[7]

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.[8]

The Worcestershire author and farmer Fred Archer mentions jerkum several times in his stories of rural life,[9] as does John Moore in his books set around a fictionalised Bredon Hill.

Some aficionados in American craft beverages have started to use "jerkum" as a broader term encompassing the alcoholic drink produced from any unadulterated fermented stone fruit (e.g., nectarine, peach, apricot, pluot).[10]


  1. ^ Hart-Davis, D. Country Matters, 1988, p.165
  2. ^ Archer, F. Farmers, craftsmen and music makers: life in a Worcestershire village between the wars, Sutton, 1994, p.20
  3. ^ Greensted, M. The arts and crafts movement in the Cotswolds, Sutton, 1996, p.97
  4. ^ Brill, Edith (1973). Life and tradition on the Cotswolds. Dent.
  5. ^ Hart-Davis, Duff (1988). Country Matters. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-79460-8.
  6. ^ Edwards, T. Worcestershire, Paul Elek, 1949, p.12
  7. ^ "Crowquill's Jottings, Berrow's Worcester Journal, October 17, 1891, p.5
  8. ^ Brill, 1973, pp.52-3
  9. ^ e.g. Archer, F. Hay days: memories of country life in the 1920s, Sutton, 2001, p.126
  10. ^