Mirabelle: a beauty to behold!
The mirabelle, whose etymology is subject to debate (but that’s nearly always the case, isn’t it?) was probably named after plums grown in Southern France where they were cultivated under the name of mirabel, its Occitan name (also mirabeau), which means look (mira) and, of course beautiful. Today, it is mainly cultivated in the French region of Lorraine (80% of world production), where it was only introduced in the early 20th Century to replace the grapevines in the region, ravaged by phylloxera. Despite its late development, the mirabelle of Lorraine was the first fruit to be certified with the PGI label (Protected Geographical Indication) in 1996. The mirabelle is also grown in the French regions of Rhône-Alpes and in Alsace, as well as in Canada. It is clearly on the podium with the most relished plums of late summer, the damson and the greengage. Even if it is smaller than its big sisters, the mirabelle shines through by the beauty of its lovely yellow, golden and red colors, and above all, by the quality of its tender, juicy and sweet flesh, which is low in calories, but rich in vitamins. It is widely used and appreciated in tarts, pastries and plated deserts and increasingly to accompany savory dishes such as foie gras or poultry. Its season of ripeness lasts just six weeks and therefore only 25% of its harvest is consumed as fresh fruit. Thankfully, the mirabelle is particularly well suited to preservation: 65% of its production is deep-frozen or processed into jams, stewed in syrup or dried, while 10% is used to make the highly appreciated mirabelle brandies and liqueurs.