Or too much of a good thing soon becomes a sticky mess. On Wednesday my mother came round, I was quite excited when she called ahead to ask if I would like some ‘big’ bags of damsons. She turned up with ten kilos of fruit from her neighbour who had clearly had them for a few days because quite a lot of them were a mushy (and mouldy mess). Nothing daunted we sorted out enough of them to fill the largest pan I could find (that would be about three kilos, could have gone to four but was beginning to do the maths and panic a little)
I thought I’d make jelly to avoid having to deal with the stones in any meaningful way (oh what it was to be innocent) but between talking to my mother and trying to impose some semblance of order before a later visitor arrived I didn’t measure out the water properly (this occurred to me much, much, later when I realised I’d been following a jam recipe). After a lot of boiling however I had quite an impressive amount of sloppy pink stuff and with the help of my friend and a jelly bag improvised out of chairs and embroidery paraphernalia we managed to pour the contents of a red hot and very heavy pan into the muslin and through that into a large bowl. Mostly. I got damson juice on myself, the floor, several chairs, and the kitchen table – all of which was predictable. I didn’t ask and haven’t been told if my friend remained stain free but he provided wine and we had the sort of evening that lulls you into a false sense of security regarding domestic projects
Next day I managed to remove the bowl of juice from the floor and put a lid on it against further developments. The slimy pulp proved harder to deal with. The thing is there was such a lot of it and it was surprisingly wet and unappealing to touch. I’ve never attempted to deal with quite so much all at once (and god knows I have a new insight and appreciation for more professional preservers). I was on my way to work and didn’t have a lot of time but something had to be done. The end solution (it seems I don’t perform as well under pressure as I always thought) meant when I got home the sink in the kitchen was slightly blocked, and so was the bath. Also the bathroom was covered in dried fragments of damson, as is everything that’s been in the sink and bath ever since. This includes me.
After the clean up it was time to start boiling, which is when I realised I’d miss measured the water in the first place and forgotten to measure the liquid I did have. More messing around and splashing later and I think I threw in enough sugar. It got hot, and then hotter yet, which isn’t really the best way to spend a Friday evening after a long day at work capped by a bus running half an hour late and with a very early start for more work the next day. Finally though I thought setting point had been reached. It hadn’t as it turned out, but I wasn’t to know that until the next day. Meanwhile I went to sleep exhausted.
Remembering when weekends where about not staying in slaving over a hot stove I spent Saturday night re boiling my damson gloop until it looked blacker than a pit of hell and boiled over. More cleaning and a final decant into re sterilised jars and I think I’m onto something. Which is good because I have no shortage of whatever it is I’ve made. It’s not as good with meat as I hoped and is a bit runny to use instead of jam but it’s a lot like pomegranate molasses which is hopeful. Any suggestions about what to do with it will be gratefully received.