With the hedgerows giving us such a wonderful bounty this year I thought I would start with a little identification lesson. From left to right we have sloe, wild plum and wild damson.
I freeze my foraged treasure on the day I pick them after removing all stems and washing and drying the fruit carefully first. All of these foraged fruits will make excellent preserves and today I am going share two recipes for damsons.
1 cinnamon stick
Makes one 750ml bottle
Start off by sterilising a 1.5 litre Kilner jar. Carefully wash and pick over your fruit removing any stems or damaged fruit. Add the sugar, cinnamon, clementine zest and vodka to the still warm jar and give it all a good shake. The heat from the jar will help dissolve the sugar. Using a table fork prick each damson four or five times and add to the jar. Leave the fruit in the vodka for at least three months shaking as often as you remember. Then strain through a sieve lined with a piece of muslin into a sterilised bottle. It will keep for up to a year but I bet it doesn’t last that long. If you are not a fan of cinnamon just leave it out.
Place the damsons in a large preserving pan with 150ml of water. Cook the damsons gently over a low heat until they are completely broken down. This will take about 1 hour. Cool the pulp then put the mixture through a nylon sieve into a measuring jug. For every 600ml of puree add 450g of sugar to a clean pan. Add the damson puree and lemon juice to the pan also and heat gently stirring constantly until all the sugar has dissolved. Keep cooking the mixture till it forms a thick paste which shows you a glimpse of the bottom of the pan when you draw a spoon across the base.
Place in warm sterile jars. I use straight-sided jars lined with liquid Glycerine to enable you to turn out the cheese in one piece.