The Lorraine Mirabelle is a mouth-watering, tasty variety of plums widely appreciated in France.
The delightful Mirabelle from the Lorraine region of France is a small, yellow-coloured variety of plum. Since the famous French cook Jean-Pierre Coffe stated "Happiness exists. I’ve met it. It weighs 14.3 grams and it comes from Lorraine", this delicate and tasty fruit has been a real benchmark in the French gastronomy.
Enjoyed on its own or complementing all sorts of pastry, the "Mirabelle de Lorraine" is now a common ingredient for tarts, typical clafoutis and, above all, jams. French Chefs also use the Northern fruit for delicious sweet and savoury mixes, with fish or duck fillets for instance.
Mirabelle's harvest begins generally at mid-August, resulting in a really popular annual feast in the town of Metz. This Northern town of Lorraine is indeed renowned for its production of Mirabelles. Plums from Metz are particularly appreciated for being smaller than the others (from Southern Lorraine) and with a very fine, red and yellow skin.
This variety is actually the most used to make jams, whilst the Mirabelles from Nancy's area are bigger and generally kept in pots with syrup.
Since 1996, the French Mirabelle production has been protected by a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) to guarantee its authenticity and quality at the European level. In 1999, this regional fruit was granted two specific labels - "Red Labels" and "Mirabelle de Lorraine" - that would recognize Lorraine plum producers' expertise.
The Lorraine region of France produces 70 % of the mirabelle plums' world production, meaning that the crop is annually limited to 15,000 tons!
According to Lorraine legends, the Mirabelle plum may have been introduced first in the town of Mirabeau (named "Mirabella" in Latin), in the Vaucluse department of France. It is thought that the Duke of Anjou and Lorraine got the first mirabelle plum trees planted in the 15th century and, given the success of the fruit, finally brought them to Lorraine.
But Lorraine inhabitants like to link the Mirabelle with the "Princess Mira" legend. It is believed that this generous, pretty Princess lived in a beautiful castle in the so-called "Pays de Nied". One day, she offered an old woman hospitality and in return, the old lady (who was a fairy) transformed all the trees of the kingdom into magnificient, rich trees full of golden fruits.
Such appetizing fruit was then called "Mirabelle" to recall the Princess's name and beauty ("belle" meaning pretty in French).
If we refer to the Latin etymology - "pretty to see" - Lorrain inhabitants are completely entitled to lay claim to their legend!