Sunday, September 21, 2008
Damsons are tiny, quite sour plums. Raw they are, I would guess, inedible. But cooked they are gorgeous. They aren't terribly popular this side of the Altantic which means you can usually get them quite cheaply. I scored a 7 litre basket at the market today for $10.
With this I made:
-honeyed whole damsons
-a damson crisp for dessert
-and something that will remain a mystery for now as it will be in the christmas stockings of all my family members :-)
I used this recipe for the jam. It tastes heavenly but it didn't set very well. This is due to me not being very good at testing jam and has nothing to do with the recipe. The only changes I made to the recipe were to sterilize the jars in boiling water for 10 mins instead of in the oven, and I water bath processed the filled jars for 10 mins to seal.
For the honeyed damsons I made a syrup of 2.25 cups mild tasting honey and 4 cups water, then I pricked the damsons a few times each and dropped them into the boiling syrup. After a few mins I packed them into jars and processed in a water bath for 20 mins.
After packing the damsons into jars, I was left with a lot of extra syrup (which at this point was honeyed plum juice), so I canned that too for 20 mins.
For the damson crisp, I took the damsons which weren't perfect enough for canning, put them in a dish and sprinkled them with a generous amount of sugar and then a bit of flour. Then I covered them with a mix of rolled oats, oat bran, spelt flour, safflower oil, maple syrup and a bit of brown sugar. This turned out so well I took some down to our tenants (and got some carrot soup in return!).
Once the damsons were dealt with I moved on to my next task. Branston Pickle. I love this stuff. It is basically pickled veg with dates, and sugar and vinegar. Sounds weird but is great with cheese and is the classic accompaniment to a ploughman's lunch. The official recipe is no doubt copyrighted but I found this recipe online. The colour is not as dark as true Branston and I could have made it darker with colouring but it just didn't make sense to take a natural, local veg pickle and add chemicals to it. Besides its how it tastes that counts and it really does taste like Branston!
Here are the results of a long day in front of the stove: