Well this isn’t a recipe but it is a photo of my supper. Lovely bread, lovely cheese and lovely pickled damsons. The damsons I pickled in September are now very good and combined with the walnut bread and mature cheddar made for a very good snack.
I think one of the best things to do with damsons is to keep it simple and stew them with sugar. I tend to cook them straight from frozen, they just need a little bit longer in the oven. It’s hard to beat them when they are served with custard. My girls love to mix the damson juice with the custard to make a vivid pink pudding. We each save all the damson stones and then see who we are going to marry by counting them saying “Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief’ and then we count them again to see how we are going to travel to church on the wedding day “coach, carriage, wheelbarrow, muck cart”. It’s daft but it has to be done.
It’s hard to give precise measurements here because it will depend on how tart or sweet you like your damsons. I like mine to taste tart and then be sweetened by the custard.
300g (10oz) frozen damsons
5 dessertspoons demerara sugar
Put the damsons and sugar into an ovenproof bowl and bake at 180°c for 20 minutes until the damsons are soft and have begun to burst out of their skins.
Serve warm with plenty of warm custard.
Preparing the damsons
This is a great way to use up a glut of damsons, it transforms the gin or vodka into a heavenly tipple, capturing the essence of the damson. Be warned though it is very easy to drink and very alcoholic!
For every 1 pint (570ml) damsons use 6oz (175g) sugar
gin or vodka
You will need a large screw top jar, we use the old fashioned sweet jars but you could use a large kilner jar too.
Prick the damsons with a fork or skewer and place in the jar. It’s best to fill the jar with damsons for maximum flavour. You will need to measure them as they go in because for every pint (570ml)of damsons that you use you need to add 60z (175g) of sugar. Fill the jar with either gin or vodka. You will need to shake the damsons gently to help the liquid seep to the bottom. Tightly fit the lid. You now need to shake the jar daily until all of the sugar has dissolved (this can take two weeks of daily shaking). Put the jar in a dark place for six months and then decant into bottles.
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.