It’s Damson Season…time for a bit of Gin and Jam


During the summer holidays, we were lucky enough to visit friends who moved down to a farm in Gloucestershire, 5 months ago.

We all had a great time and hadn’t realised what a beautiful part of the country it is…the other great thing was that it was Damson season and there we plenty to be picked.

Now I know this is meant to be a baking blog, but when it comes to Damson’s the two best things to make with them are Damson Jam and Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas with out a nice tipple of home-made Damson Gin.

So here are the recipes for both and I’d like to add that these recipes are taken from my dearly missed Grandma, who was the queen of baking, preserving and most of all the Queen of Meringues.

Damson Gin

500g Damsons

750ml Gin

250g Sugar

Method:

Start by sterilizing a large ‘Kilner’ Jar or Demijohn (the neck must be wide enough to get the Damsons in and out). Now take your Damson’s and discard any over-ripe or bruised ones. Once you have discarded the bad ones, start to prick each damson once. Place all the pricked Damson’s into the jar and then pour in the sugar. Now top up with Gin…how easy can it be.

Give the jar a gentle shake and leave it to take in a cool dark cupboard, making sure that you shake it once a month.

You may also want to taste it once a month and add more sugar according to your taste.

It will be ready for drinking in 3 months, but can be left a little longer…it’s just perfect by Christmas

Now it’s time to strain the Gin and this is best done through a cheesecloth, or if you’ve had little ones a muslin square (minus the baby goop) is perfect. Pop the strained gin into bottles and either share or hoard it over Christmas.

It’s worth the wait….

Damson Jam

Makes: 7 x 225ml Jars

1.25kg Damsons

500ml Water

1.5kg of Sugar (granulated or preserving)

Method:

Again start by sterilizing all the jars. Now wash the Damsons and remove any stalks and pop them into a large pan or preserving pan, with the water. Cook slowly for about 30 minutes until the Damsons have broken down. Add the sugar and stir over a low heat until dissolved.

Increase the heat and boil for about 10 minutes before testing for a set. Remove the stones as they rise to the top. My Grandma used to check the set point by dropping a blob of the hot jam into a saucer of cold water, but I am a gadget freak and I prefer to use a sugar thermometer to make sure it has reached the setting point. The setting point is when the mixture reaches 105c (220F). If necessary, boil for a further minute, then test again. Once you are happy it has reached setting point, remove the pan from the heat, skim off any scum and allow to cool briefly.

Carefully pour into the hot sterilized jars and seal them. Allow the jars to cool before you label and store them.

Well that’s if for Damson season, just enjoy the fruits of your labour.