The Dittisham Plum
For an extremely unique foodie experience whilst on holiday, look no further than Dittisham and the Dittisham Plum.
“The wasps patrol the orchard, as the hours fall like plums into the unkept grass, from the fruits warm skin the slow juice runs, like honey trickling through an hour glass.”
Excerpt from poet Brian Patten’s words for Ditsum Plum Project plaque, 2004, Ditsum Village Hall
Grown only in the village of Dittisham on the banks of the River Dart, The Dittisham Ploughman Plum is a very delicious local mystery.
A picture postcard village; Dittisham sits on the banks of the River Dart between Dartmouth and Totnes opposite Greenway, the childhood holiday home of crime writer Agatha Christie.
Read our guide to things to do in Dittisham.
The Dittisham Ploughman Plum (Prunus domestica) as the name suggests is a plum found only in the village of Dittisham. It has a rich sweet taste and a smell reminiscent of honey and grapes.
With a very short season (lasting no more than 10 days from the early/mid-August) the Dittisham Ploughman Plum is renowned locally but not too much further afield.
A similar size to those available in supermarkets The Dittisham Plum is however far redder in colour and more oblong in shape than supermarket varieties. The flesh is juicy and lends itself well to making excellent jam.
Now for the mystery…
The exact origins of the Dittisham Plum are vague at best. Only being available from one riverside village in the whole of South Devon suggests it is not a native species.
Theory suggests that the plum is linked to the German “Pflaummen Baum” Plum which gave rise to the ‘Ploughman’ name while a number of local stories have linked the trees to the trade of prunes as well as the salvage of wrecked cargo.
The stories start in a similar fashion with a cargo ship carrying prunes from Germany passing by the South West coast. The most unromantic of stories is that the boat came a shore and the prunes were simply traded with the locals who planted the stones around the village.
Other versions depict stormy weather being the cause of the plums arrival. With scenario A being the crew survived the storm and traded the prunes for shelter and repairs.
Scenario B the sailors drowned and the cargo looted, or C the ship sunk further out to sea and a singular box of cargo happened to find its way up the river to Dittisham Quay where it washed ashore.
Either way for years since people from surrounding areas have flocked to Dittisham during the season to taste this rare and delicious plum but with the production and consumption of the Dittisham Plum being so highly localised demand is rarely experienced outside of Dittisham.
Be sure to try one when you next visit.