We live right in a fantastic country park which links up to several local commons. I tend to go for regular long walks with little K in the pram. She really enjoys the scenery and I can’t say I blame her. There are some incredibly enormous trees that were replanted here from Kew Gardens during WW2 so that they wouldn’t be damaged during the bombing raids on London. Some patches of ancient woodland, undisturbed for hundreds of years, also still remain. There are also two old abandoned orchards.
I missed the cherries this year but managed to get the Damsons before the birds. Damsons are essentially small, wild plums. They have a fantastic tart flavour and the skins release an unreal pink colour. I picked 1.5kg.
My chefy friend L and I spent several days debating the pro’s of damson vodka, icecream and jam while said fruit languished in my freezer. In the end, we opted for Jam. So last Monday we juggled 3 kids, 2 cups of tea and a jam thermometer while our Damsons bubbled away on the stove.
You’ll need equal weights of whole, ripe Damsons and ordinary granulated sugar. Damson’s are fairly high in pectin as long as you cook them enough before adding the sugar so you don’t need to use fancy jam sugar with added pectin.
We weighed the frozen Damsons and chucked them straight into a large pot on a low heat with a drop of water and covered them. Once they were burst and bubbling and the stones were separated from the flesh, we added an equal weight of ordinary granulated sugar. That brought the stones to the surface and we picked them out. We brought the jam up to 120 degrees and let it bubble away for 10 minutes while we picked out more stones. The hot jam was then poured into warm sterilised kilner jars. We had enough for exactly 4 jars (roughly 2 pints in total)
I’ll be enjoying this on scones in a week or two. Next week I’ll be pilfering some apples from the orchard and having a bash at chutney.