The skin is a golden yellow. Sometimes the skin will be speckled with red, particularly that of a variety called Metz Mirabelles. The speckles will develop on the side that had the sun. Inside, the flesh is golden yellow or dark yellow, and separates easily from the pit in the centre.
The fruit is very sweet, but only moderately juicy.
Compared to Zwetschgen Plums (aka Prune Plums), they are sweeter owing to higher amounts of fructose sugar in them, and they are richer in calcium.
As a fresh-eating fruit, they are pretty much a one-bite deal (though of course you don’t eat the pit in the middle.) Varieties such as the Nancy, named after a city in Lorraine, are considered better if you want to eat them fresh.
Mostly, though, Mirabelles are used for preserves, cooked desserts and alcohol. 70% of the Mirabelles grown in Europe are made into jam, and 20% are used in Alsace to make the alcohol called “eau de vie Mirabelle.”
A fewer newer varieties such as Mirabelle Gypsy and Golden Sphere have been bred to be somewhat larger: they can weigh up to 1 ½ oz (40g.)
Mirabelles have an appealing sweet fragrance when ripe, but bruise easily. When buying, choose ones with good colour and smell.
Store fresh Mirabelles in fridge in plastic bag for up to 2 or 3 days.
To preserve Mirabelles whole, pack in jars with a sugar syrup that is about 40% sugar and process sealed jars 30 to 45 minutes in water that is about 185 F (85 C).
Mirabelles can be frozen whole, pitted or unpitted, for up to 12 months for use in cooking later. They are easier to use later if you find the time to pit them first before freezing. For use on top of cakes, you can just put frozen (pitted) Mirabelles on top the cake before baking. Using them straight from the freezer will stop them from making the cake soggy.
Mirabelles have been grown in France since the 1500s, and in Germany since the 1800s.
Sometimes called in English “cherry plums”, referring to their small size and their long stems.