Pickled Damsons

Pickling damsons

Pickling damsons

We have a couple of damson trees in our garden.  Last year a late frost damaged the blossom and there was not a damson to be seen. This year the trees have been loaded. We have frozen some ready for making stewed damsons this winter, I have made damson jam and damson vodka and pickled damsons.  I was introduced to the idea of pickled damsons by my husband and I must admit that I was appalled at the very thought until I tried them!  Now I am a convert, they are absolutely delicious with cold ham, sweet with a sour tang. If you haven’t tried them they are very easy to make and really worth it.  Once tried you will be making them again and again. This is a recipe from my mother-in-law from an old pamphlet collecting local people’s favourite recipes.

Sterilise 3 x 1 lb jars by washing them thoroughly, swilling with hot water and then placing in a low oven (100°c) for 20 mins

2 lbs (900g) damsons
½ pint (275ml) malt vinegar
2 lbs (900g) dark brown sugar
1 oz (25g) ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick
2 tsp ground cloves or 6 whole cloves

Prick the damsons with a fork or several times with a skewer and put into a large jar or bowl.  Tie the spices into a muslin bag and place in a large saucepan with the sugar and vinegar and bring to the boil. Pour this mixture over the damsons and leave for 24 hours.  Turn all into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Boil for 3 mins.  Carefully spoon into the hot sterilised jars and cover when cold.  These are best stored for 6 weeks before tucking in and they last for ages and ages.  I have had jars for a year or more and still tasting delicious.


8 responses to “Pickled Damsons

  1. I have tried making the pickled damsons, using a different recipe (Katie Stewart, Times Cookery Book). The damsons were pricked, placed in large bowl, liquid boiled and placed over damsons three times, before reducing liquid and pouring over damsons packed in jars. However, damsons quickly became rather shrivelled, hard and chewy rather than soft and yummy. I will try this recipe as perhaps cooking the damsons for 3 minutes will make a difference. I live in the Lake District, so have access to beautiful Lyth Valley damsons. A local firm sells pickled damsons and they are gorgeous! plump and soft and a wonderful flavour. Fingers crossed!

  2. Dear moneypennie,
    This version of the recipe is very easy and our damsons stay soft and plump for ages, we found a jar two years after we had made them and they still tasted good. I hope it works for you, let me know how you get on. I haven’t been lucky enough to try Lyth Valley damsons, hopefully one day…

  3. Hello Kath,

    Thank you so much for the encouragement! I will try your recipe tomorrow (Sunday). By the way, I discovered a lovely recipe for Damson Jam. I had made some a few weeks ago with a traditional recipe, which was very nice. However, last weekend I tried something different from my Cordon Bleu Book:

    8 lbs of damson, washed and drained
    4 lbs of jam sugar

    Slit each damson lengthways on one side only (labourious!), placing in a large earthenware bowl and layering 3 lbs of the sugar as you go. Leave overnight and next day, pour the damsons and the resulting juice into your jam pan. Bring gently to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes until the damsons are just tender then shake in the remaining l lb of sugar. Boil rapidly for 15 – 20 minutes, then test. (I found that I had to boil for at 30 minutes as the original recipe says more sugar than I used). Allow the jam to cool to warm before putting into jars as this allows the fruit to stay suspended in the jam, rather than it rising to the top. Because no water is added, this jam has the most intense, delicious flavour although it is not as set as a traditional jam. It should be eaten within three or four months.

    The original recipe says 8lbs of damsons to 12-16 oz sugar to each lb of damsons. I wanted a more ‘tart’ result, so tried less sugar which I’m really pleased with. I didn’t remove any stones as I think they are all part of real damson jam!

    Recipe from Cordon Bleu Monthly Cookery Course, number 8 page 10.

    Damson gin next! Moneypennie

  4. Thank you Moneypennie, this is brilliant, I will give it a go. I was looking through my books the other week for a good damson jam recipe. I made Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Dampote and his Damson Chilli Sauce, which is a by-product using some of the excess liquid. It was very nice. But you can never have enough damson jam in the house. Enjoy your pickling tomorrow.

  5. Hi Kath,

    Pickled the damsons and they seem to be much better than my first attempt! Thank you so much for posting the recipe. I made another batch of jam, too. I think the first batch was slightly better; I didn’t boil it for quite as long – probably between 20 and 25 mins, whereas the second time, I boiled for 30 mins and also made a slightly smaller quantity (using 6lbs damsons rather than 8lbs). It is still delicious, though!

    It’s fun sharing recipes. Alexandra

  6. Hi Alexandra,
    I am really pleased that all has gone well with the pickling. I am sure you will find them delicious when it’s time to crack open a jar.
    Thanks for the tip on boiling the jam for less time.
    I agree it is fun sharing recipes, I have only recently started this blog but I am loving every minute of it.

  7. Pingback: Mackerel and feta stuffed baked potatoes « The Ordinary Cook

  8. Pingback: Bread, cheese and pickled damsons « The Ordinary Cook

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