Recipe No. 999 by Jan Cascarini

Today we’re making greengage jam – a wonderful fruit, the taste of which immediately transports one back to childhood. No other plum has a flavour like it.

First, take your old wooden ladder. Place it securely on the uneven ground. In your left hand, hold a plastic bowl large enough to accommodate as much fruit as you intend to pick. In your right hand – I’m sure you can do this – keep a pair of secateurs for those fruits which will be just out of reach of your outstretched arm.

Now, holding the ladder firmly between the heels of both hands, carefully make your way as far up as you feel is possible. Listen to your inner voice; it knows you can do this, so put aside previous warnings not to attempt it. Begin picking the fruit.

Quite soon you will find it more difficult to keep the bowl in a level position. This is good, because it means you are successfully filling the bowl.

Now you have taken all the low-hanging fruit and will have to stretch to reach the further ones. Lean forward with your body against the tree, holding the bowl beneath the fruit. Extend your right arm and, with the secateurs, snip off the whole end of the branch so that the cluster of fruit at its tip drops into the bowl.

Ah… it does sometimes happen that wasps are feeding on the side of the fruit that you cannot see. Whilst it is possible that the neighbour you have called might pick up all the dropped fruit, wash it and continue with the jam recipe, I think it is unrealistic to assume that this will be the case.

In the meantime, I hope the leg mends promptly and that you’ll soon be back in our kitchen.

Jan Cascarini trained in stage management, and spent ten years working in theatre before leaving it all to marry and raise a family.