I stumbled across some damsons in the greengrocer the other day and I realised I had neither eaten them raw nor cooked with them before so I couldn’t resist snatching some up to see what they had to offer. As this was my first Damson experience I thought it best to play it safe and go with some pretty standard recipes. There are still some of the little fruits around, but they won’t be for long so if you want to give either of these a go, act quickly!
This seems incredibly simple and I’m yet to know how rewarding as there is a waiting game of at least three months while the damsons infuse, sounds like it’ll be ready just in time to tackle the January blues.
110g caster sugar
Give the jar a good shake and then repeat every day until the sugar has dissolved. Then leave in a cool dark(ish) place for three months (or longer for more intensity), giving a little shake every so often.
Once ready you need to strain the gin through a sieve lined with muslin cloth, discard the damsons and bottle the liquid. Drink as and when.
Damson and Vanilla Jam
I only really made this as I had a few damsons left over from the gin – the recipe makes enough for about one average sized jam jar (approx 330g), or in my case two and a half tiny jars. I thought it was worth posting as if you are non-jam experienced a small quantity might be an undaunting way to introduce yourself to the wonderful world of jam-making.
260g vanilla sugar (or caster sugar + 1 split vanilla pod)
Place the damsons in a pan and cover with 250ml water. Bring up to a boil and let bubble away until the damsons are soft and broken down (approx 15-20 minutes).
Lower the heat and add another 150ml cold water and the sugar (+vanilla pod if using), stir until the sugar has dissolved and carefully remove any stones that have risen to the surface. Once the sugar has dissolved and you’ve removed all / most of the stones, turn the heat up and let it bubble away for 10 minutes. At this point it should have reached setting point* and is ready to put in some sterilised jars.
*to test for setting point, put a small plate in the freezer while you are making the jam. After the ten minutes cooking time place a dollop of jam on this plate and return to the freezer for a minute, when you remove the plate and push the jam with your finger it should wrinkle up and appear to be set.