Damson Gin and Jam

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!

Damson Gin

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

70cl gin

450g damsons

Place the gin and the sugar in a large kilner jar (or similar).  Remove the stalks from the damsons and prick each one all over with a fork.  Add to the gin and 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.

220g damsons

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.

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14 Responses to Damson Gin and Jam

  1. Hi Laura
    I have just picked my damsons and am about to make the gin too!( I am lucky enough to have my own tree!) My recipe is for a litre of gin and kilo of damsons so I might try yours instead as its heavier on the damsons! However my little tip is ( and its too late for you now!!) to freeze the damsons briefly , this softens the skins and then you dont need the painstaking skin piercing process! also, and I know you wontt bear this, but it tastes better if left for a year in the bottle!! AAAAARGH Januray 2013.!

    • Laura Fyfe says:

      Wow, thanks Christopher! Lots of brilliant info – will bear the freezing tip in mind for next time… 1 year! That’s going to be tough, can i compromise on 6 months?! It’ll be a test of patience…

  2. Jenny Lau says:

    I’m going to give gin a go, looks good! What other fruits can I put in it? xx

    • Laura Fyfe says:

      raspberries? blackberries? – i guess pretty much anything could work, raspberries would be nice i reckon. or then later in the year i guess there’s also sloe gin, i think sloes are around from late october. or you could definitely add some other flavours.. vanilla pod? or cinnamon stick? or a few star anise would be nice…? mmm, the possibilities, i’m going to keep it simple this year! let’s have a gin off x

  3. Michael says:

    where do I get damsons from??

  4. Laura Pope says:

    Laura, I’m loving the sound of your damson & vanilla jam – sounds gorgeous, so am thinking of adapting it to make a coulis out of the gin-soaked damsons from the gin when I strain and bottle it. I made my damson gin last week and the week before – I’ll be away from here from the end of October until early June next year – do you think the damson gin can survive 8 months with the damsons sitting in the gin or will that be too long? I think 8 months is better than straining it before I leave, but am afraid of spoiling the gin… x
    PS – posted something along very similar lines to you today – great minds, us Lauras…

    • Laura Fyfe says:

      wow, that’s going to be some punchy coulis! i’ve no idea what state the damsons will be in by straining time – might they have lost all their flavour to the gin? I guess only time will tell! let me know how it goes…

      christopher, above and a seasoned damson gin maker, says it’s best to leave it for up to one year so your eight months shouldn’t be a problem at all – not sure if i’ve got the patience though! i’ll take some sneaky sips maybe before then….

      i’m going to read your post now.

      • Laura Pope says:

        Thanks, Laura and Christopher, for the advice. L, I think you may be right about the damsons – I’ll fish some out next month to test for the coulis, but I’m not sure what state they’ll be in after 8 months soaking in gin… might be a bit rough. Will let you know next year!

  5. Laura Fyfe says:

    Hey mike, I saw some at the fruit and veg stall at the end of lower marsh last week they may still have them, will check when i go to the butcher later and let you know…

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