Green seems like a very unappetizing color when we think of the juicily sweet dark purples, reds, and blues of perfectly ripened plums. Despite the contradiction, while looking around Raintree I happened across a species of plum called Green Bavay or Green Gage, that ripens green like it didn’t know it was a plum.
Having never seen or heard of something like this before, I was curious if it is all that great. So I went looking for a second opinion, and found an extremely information-filled post on Gauging the Gages at A Gardener’s Table.
Linda Ziedrich, the author, has not only grown the Bavay that I found, but another variety of Gage, and several other plums. All of the first hand experience I found very helpful, especially since the cultivar I had found on Raintree, the Bavay, was one of her favorite Gages. She writes:
The Reine-Claude de Bavay plums were ugly. A little bigger than the so-called Green Gages, they ripened more green than gold, with a heavy bloom, rash-like red patches, scabby spots, and open cracks. But what a marvel in the mouth! Here was all the buttery texture of the other gages, a powerful honey-like sweetness, and a strong tartness besides.
I was sold, and decided to include Reine-Claude de Bavay in my food forest.
I already have several species of plums in the food forest including ‘Nana’ Beach plum (Prunus maritima), and Japanese plums (Prunus salicina). I have them in dry, well drained, sunny hillside spaces they are supposed to like. The problem is these site’s are filled up, and what’s left are in the heavier clay further down the hillside. Looking at Raintree’s care guide on plums, I read that European Plums, which includes Gages, prefer heavier soils though. So the Bavay will fit in perfectly.
Trying to figure the reason for breeding a green plum, I’ve heard that birds will often eat plums as they turn color and ripen, and though I haven’t seen it myself to be sure, I assume that birds wouldn’t recognize that a plum is ripe if it stays green. Breeding for a green-ripe plum might be to protect from birds eating the whole crop.
As usual with trees, the investment will take a while to pay me back, if at all. But trusting what I’ve read, I have high hopes I won’t be disappointed. So look for a review of Green Bavay plums here not too far into the future.
The book ‘preserving food without freezing or canning’ has a number of specifically green gage plum recipes, I don’t remember them offhand but many recipes in the book are quite unusual, I have been using it as a guide for a few years now.
I think I have that book somewhere. I’ll have to pull it out and get a head start. Thanks for the tip!