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Damsons in Distress....or at least, in a pot.


This is me....in case you had any doubts about that. ;)

Ehh...you're right. ;)

Moving on! I must have some home-maker cell in my body that won't let me rest, even on my birthday. Because yesterday afternoon I went for a walk to see if a neighbor's peaches were ready. This neighbor, who passed away recently, was our beloved Miss Virginia. Her nephew told us that whatever fruit comes into season in her yard we are welcome too!
"It has the odor of grave-robbing about it!"
-Miss Pole, of Cranford
Ahem. As I was saying.... It is such a blessing because I've always wanted an orchard! Anyway, we were too late for the sour cherries, and my wisdom teeth mess put me on the too-late side for the wild cherries, but I was just in time for some lovely white-flesh peaches yesterday. Naturally me, being a bit bulkier than what tender, bendy fruit trees enjoy, and Gracie, being too small to climb higher than me, we only picked the fruit on ground level. But then I saw It.

The It.

The It I've been waiting for ever since I heard Miss Virginia mention having s
uch an It the first year or two we moved here....

This It is rare in our county. For heaven's sake! It's rare in America!

Because this It, is a beautiful damson plum tree! :)
Photo courtesy of Google images.
I didn't get any pictures of this gorgeous tree of my own, because that self-same homemaker cell went into over-drive and I commandeered Benjamin to help me strip the tree bare without a second thought. Truly though. Who could resist such a beautiful crop of fruit! The tree, though it's been neglected in recent years and not sprayed or pruned or anything was absolutely dripping with smokey purple plums about the size of large marbles. The tree branches looked precisely like this:
Photo courtesy of Google images.
Isn't It a beauty? Benji and I picked every swingin' damson we could lay our hands down, then shook the tree violently to get the rest. They just *wouldn't* come off the top of the tree despite our efforts with a rake, so I decided to let the birds have those ones. Benjamin and I carted our peach-basket home, two-thirds full of the purple damsons. I had tried the fruits but they were very acidic while still being sweet. Like a plum that dries out your mouth in the same way green apples do. That was when I did some research and found they are cooking plums. Very well.
Homemaker cell went into over-drive again. I'd preserve them. I picked through my loot, taking out any damsons that weren't good, and then measured out the fruit. I ended up with....12 pounds, I believe. The recipe for damson jam stated that since the damsons are cling-stone plums, you must boil the plums in the water first, then skim out the pits. Fair enough. I set the damsons to boiling and a couple of hours later began trying to "skim" out the pits. Ahem. I decided I had better do what one site suggested and let the mixture cool.
This morning I gave in to the job of dredging up damson-stones and I washed my hands really well, then plunged them into the vat of pinky-purpley fruit, squeezing all the damsons until the stones came out, then fished them out. I really needed something like this:
That being done, I reverted to my original recipe.
But what do you know? They wanted me to put 12 pounds of sugar in my jam! No sirree!
I cut the sugar in half at least, but then began wondering if it would jell that way. Thankfully, we had some packets of fruit pectin left in the pantry from strawberry season, so I put those in
and boiled the mixture a long time before finally ladling it into hot jars and putting the lids on. It made exactly 14 pints of delicious jam.
I do hope it jells right....
But if not I already have plans. Damson sauce (yes, that's what I'll call it if it doesn't jell) might be delicious on gingerbread or spice cakes. :) And it wouldn't be bad over vanilla icecream either. I've even heard-tell you can put it on game...think turkey and cranberries. :) I'm not too worried about the end product...we didn't pay for the fruit and so a mistake won't be the end of the world.
Oh yes! I have a book of Victorian-era jam and relish recipes, and so I took the remaining few damsons, packed them in a jar, and per the recipe in that book, made "spiced plums". Only I jerry-rigged the recipe to fit my tastes.
I started with packing the damsons in a clean jar after pricking them all over with a hairpin. Then I made a syrup out of a cup of vinegar, two cups brown sugar, a heaping spoonful ground cloves, and a heaping spoonful of ground cinnamon, boiled together on the stove. When that was syrupy, I poured it into the jar over the damsons and capped it and voila! Another experiment! :)
The only thing left was to clean up. And yes....I looked that glamorous the whole time. ;)

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