I have a confession to make, in the 40 years that my parents have lived in their current house I have never taken any notice of their Damson tree. When I was growing up we had a Victoria plum tree and a huge pear tree which dominated the garden but the Damson tree just minded its own business in one of the borders. The Victoria plum tree and the pear tree have long since languished but the Damson tree has soldiered on. So it took my new love of jam making for me to actually look forward to the harvest of Damsons that I’ve half heartedly accepted bags of in the past. Yes shocking I know!
So as with all my jams I like to have a good old research of my topic and find the best and most efficient way to make my next jam. It became apparent that this wasn’t a simple jam to make like all the other ones I’d made. With Damsons you have the sticky issue of the stone to contend with. Hence there were recipes where you either laboriously cut them out at the beginning or you had to wade through hot jam at the end to remove them. Kirstie Allsopp even suggested counting the plums so that you could be sure to have removed all the stones! Then there were useful tips I found like agitating the plums once cooked with a whisk to help loosen the stones before fishing out. Another tip I found which would have worked if my plums had all been really ripe, was to remove the stone by gripping the opposite ends of the Damson and squeezing thus releasing the stone. Sadly this only worked on a few of my plums and most of them were not ripe enough for this method.
I came up with what I thought was a stroke of genius, I used my Oxo Goodgrips Cherry/Olive pitter as it is so sturdy and proved perfect for the job. I decided I didn’t fancy fishing for stones at the end of the jam making process with rubber gloves and I’m really glad I opted to remove them before. If I hadn’t I wouldn’t have known about the 3 rotten plums that had looked fine from the outside but were totally brown on the inside which would have spoiled the jam. The only problem with pitting the olives before hand is that there is a certain amount of plum still stuck to the stone, which would also happen when using a knife or the squeeze technique. Not wanting to waste any flesh I decided to simmer my stones with a small amount of water and then to pop them in a sieve which seemed to be the best of both worlds and then the liquor could be popped back in to the pan with the simmered Damsons before adding the sugar.
As Damsons are so delightfully full of pectin there was no need to add any other fruit or lemon juice to this recipe, they are the perfect fruit to make jam or jelly with. I had never eaten Damson jam before and it has a unique sharp edge to it which I have enjoyed especially at breakfast time. I made 8 pots of varying sizes but did measure the volume which was about 2.1 ltrs.
As this recipe is made from scratch I am entering it into Javelin Warriors Cookin w/luv “Made with Love Mondays” event. As this recipe is super frugal as I got the plums from my parent’s garden I am entering it into Credit Crunch Munch which is a challenge run by myself and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and being hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen this month. Four Seasons Food challenge has the theme “Sliding into Autumn” so I am entering my jam into this event which is run by Chez Foti and Delicieux who is hosting this month. Finally I am also entering the “No Food Waste” challenge (anything goes this month) run my Turquoise Lemons and being hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen this month as I certainly didn’t let these Damson go to waste this year!
I think these pots of jam would make lovely Christmas presents!
- 1.5 kg Damsons, stoned
- 1.875 kg Granulated Sugar
- 450 ml Water + 20 ml to simmer with damson stones
- Cook the damsons in a preserving pan with the water gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- At the same time cook the stones in a separate medium sized pan with 20mls of water for 20 minutes.
- When the stones have cooked put them in a sieve and squeeze with the back of a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes. (There will be clear liquid and a little puree, no need to squeeze until dry).
- Add this liquor to the cooked Damsons and then add the sugar.
- Heat slowly until all the sugar has dissolved stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Bring to the boil slowly and then time a rolling boil for 13 minutes (make sure you stir with a wooden spoon regularly to stop it catching and burning).
- Take off the heat and test a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate, leave for a couple of minutes and if it crinkles when your finger is pushed through it it’s ready.
- If not boil for 2 more minutes at a time repeating the test.
- Once ready pot up into sterilised jars and put on a clean lid. Makes 2.1 ltrs or 8 jars of varied sizes.
Sterilise jars by washing or dishwashing, filling with boiling water, emptying and then placing in oven for 20 minutes at 140°C then leave in oven until jam is ready. Clean the lids, sterilise with boiling water and then leave to drain.