Sunday, September 11, 2011

Everything is covered in Damson.


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.  

12 comments:

  1. You should definitely have spent the weekend curled up with a good book.

    Yvonne

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  2. Yes I should and next weekend that's just what I'm doing :)

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  3. Oh dear :( You were brave to try it though!

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  4. I have a damson tree in the garden, and every year there is just SO much fruit. Mostly I make compote.for the freezer...using it for puddings through the year, or with yoghurt for breakfast. Jelly was a good idea, but you have ended with syrup? I would have it with ice cream, or use it on a vanilla cheesecake?
    I do enjoy your blog. I came across it somehow from running blogs.? I think.

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  5. Verity, have had good results with jellies before, hectic day and all my fault for managing to start one recipe and find myself following another one half way through. It's not actually turned out badly at all but it got very messy.

    James and Helen, Thank you, and now - how do you get rid of the stones? It turned into jelly in the end just quite a runny one, great flavour though and I'm looking forward to working out what to do with the pints of it I've now got.

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  6. Having spent yesterday afternoon doing a simular thing with rosehips I can sympathise with you greatly. As a suggestion my rosehip syrup is destined to become turkish delight (not holding my breath on that) but you could probably do something along the same lines with your damson gloop. Follow the the recipe in the River Cottage hedgerow handbook for elderflower jellies, but possibly use less geletin as you're already half set. If you haven't got a copy give me a shout & I'll scan the page.

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  7. Having spent yesterday afternoon doing a simular thing with rosehips I can sympathise with you greatly. As a suggestion my rosehip syrup is destined to become turkish delight (not holding my breath on that) but you could probably do something along the same lines with your damson gloop. Follow the the recipe in the River Cottage hedgerow handbook for elderflower jellies, but possibly use less geletin as you're already half set. If you haven't got a copy give me a shout & I'll scan the page.

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  8. Clover - don't have a copy?!?! That's one of my favourite books. I would go as far to say that I have a mini bookish crush on John Wright. I wish he was my uncle or similar (nothing weird I promise, he just comes across as a lovely man and very knowledgeable)The jelly isn't that gloopy especially when it's cold but turkish delight would be worth a try.

    And just to show I haven't learnt my lesson I want to get hold of some rosehips now, all the cool people are making syrup it seems.

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  9. No easy way to destone the compote. I cook up a panful, with some sugar,and a tiny amount of water, then let it cool. Then put my OH in front of the TV with some old Star Trek episodes, and he will de-stone the compote.
    That is the big advantage of jelly...like you said.

    It is a lovely flavored fruit, and I love the colour of the final jelly.

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  10. James and Helen - though I'm guessing mostly Helen, I have a bad track record of getting hold of damsons being all excited about them and then doing nothing. I swore this year would be different and it has been. Next year I'll be even better organised.

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  11. I have never made anything with damson (I don't have any near me), but I've had similar problems with other fruit. My entire kitchen was purple after I made a few different things with my blackcurrants last year and I have had a few things not turn out like I planned. As long as they taste nice it doesn't really matter though :-) Good luck in using up your creation!

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  12. sharing knowledge with others
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylRA41TZ9zU

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