I scoffed a little at the beginning of the week when people said that Autumn seemed just round the corner but in a week, it really does seem to be imminent. It could be wishful thinking: I absolutely love autumn. I love the organisation that seems to come with autumn and I love that shops smell of freshly sharpened pencils and I love that the trees are overflowing with things that can be put in a crumble or a jam.
Channel 4 asked on twitter, earlier in the week, what foods people were looking forward to in the coming season. I could write a pretty endless list but it would definitely involve blackberries, plums, damsons, sloes and apples from the garden, game such as pheasants and duck, corn on the cobs, squashes and chestnuts and walnuts.
A friend of ours gave us a large bowl of damsons and as I’ve not been feeling well, I thought a good occupation of my time would be to make some damson jam. Damsons are a relation of the plum and are sometimes called damask plums. They have a smooth oval shape with a beautiful purple skin and yellow, green flesh inside. They grow on trees which produce a lovely white flower in the Spring.
Normally, I would consider jam a waste for damsons that could go into gin and create wonderful damson gin but as it’s the season and damsons are so plentiful, I can make plenty of damson gin too.
I’ve written about the basics of jam making before, the setting points and the jar sterilisation and such and so I shall simply post the link here for reference: https://thegirlwiththewoodenspoon.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/strawberry-fields-forever/. It’s definitely worth reading if you haven’t previously made jam as the set and the jars are so important if you want your jams to set and keep well.
I used the recipe from Marguerite Patten’s The Basic Basics Jams, Preserves and Chutneys Handbook. It’s a great little book with the expected basic recipes but with some quite interesting recipes too. It’s a pretty simple recipe with the most time consuming bit removing the stones! It takes a good length of time to skim out the stones with a slotted spoons, you do feel like you’re fishing for something very slippery!!
2kg of damsons = about 3kg of finished jam
- 2kg damsons
- 2 pints of water
- 2kg jam sugar
- the general rule of thumb with this is 450g damsons/half pint of water/450g jam sugar
- Put the fruit and water in a saucepan or preserving pan. Use less water if the fruit is overly ripe.
- Simmer this until the fruit is soft and then remove from the heat and skim out the stones with a slotted spoon. You may have to squish some damsons against the side of the pan to get the stones out. Be careful not to lose too much flesh!
- Add the sugar and stir over a medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Bring to a fast boil and boil until a setting point is reached. Using a saucer from the freezer as explained in the link above.
- Spoon into hot jars and seal while still hot.