22 Aug 2010

Pickled damsons

Purple damsons on a branch.
The damsons here will be ripe soon. Last year we made damson pickle and damson jam. We also experimented with drying the fruit, after removing the stones.

Dried damsons

Dried damsons.
We used a non-stick tray and a very low oven to dry the damsons and, a year on, the fruit is still good today. We have planted more stone fruit trees, and are starting to propagate various berry bushes, so we'll likely buy a dehydrator for the job in the future. This will be useful for drying herbs too.

The dried damsons can be reconstituted with boiling water and soaking for use in baking, but they're also good to pop in the mouth like sweets.

Damson pickle

Damson pickle and cheese.

Damson pickle recipe.
This is the recipe we used for damson pickle. It's an old one, passed on by a local lady some years ago (we halved the quantities):

8 lbs damsons
6 lbs sugar
1/2 oz cloves
1/4 oz cinnamon
1 quart vinegar

First day
Take good ripe damsons and prick well.
Boil vinegar and sugar and spices together and pour over the damsons.

Second day
Pour off the liquid and boil it again. Pour over damsons.

Third day
Repeat process, and if the damsons are not soft, boil all together for a minute or two.

Eat straight away or leave for a month or more to mature. Pickled damsons are great with snacks, just as you'd use any pickle; and the liquid in the jar is delicious and fortifying to drink.

Damson jam

Damson jam on toast.

Damson jam is probably the tastiest fruit jam out. It has a lovely strong dark-fruit flavour.

We use the simple recipe of 4 lbs of damsons to 4 lbs of sugar and a 1/4 pint of water.

Boil it all up and stir. Squash the damsons against the side of the pan to remove the stones. Skim the stones off as they collect on the surface.

By the time you've removed all the stones, the jam will be about ready. You can check by seeing how the jam on the pile of stones has set.

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