We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
- Dish type
- Fruit desserts
This simple wild food dessert comes from the hedgerows and gardens of rural Cambridgeshire. Serve this plum crumble warm with yoghurt, cream or ice cream.
11 people made this
- 900g damson plums
- 450g crab apples - peeled, cored and chopped
- juice and zest of 4 lemons
- 225g caster sugar
- 225g oats
MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:1hr30min ›Extra time:12hr marinating › Ready in:13hr50min
- In a large bowl, combine the damsons, crab apples, lemon zest and juice and sugar. Mix well, then cover and leave overnight in the fridge.
- The next day, transfer the fruit to a large preserving pan and cook and stir over a low to medium heat for 90 minutes until the fruit is soft and breaking apart.
- Preheat the oven to 200 C / Gas 6.
- Transfer the fruit to a deep baking dish and sprinkle the top with the oats.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the oats have browned. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
This recipe does not call for the removal of the damson stones, if you wish to remove them you can do so prior to step one in the method.
It is an old wives' tale that if you place your damson stones around the lip of your bowl and count how many stones you have by saying "tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief" that you will learn of your future husband.
Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(0)
Reviews in English (0)
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's damson recipes
O f all the wild fruits that start to become available as summer segues into autumn, damsons are perhaps the easiest to love. This may be because they are not truly wild, but generally escapees from domestic cultivation – plums gone rogue, if you will. A subspecies of Prunus domestica, they are close siblings of garden plums. Yet, having shaken off the shackles of horticulture and made a break for freedom, they're there for the taking, which is one more point in their favour, as far as I'm concerned.
You will find damsons growing in all kinds of locations, some quite wild – woodland and riverbanks – others much more urban, including allotments and waste ground. Coming across a tree-full is the equivalent of hitting the foraging motherlode. Deeply fond as I am of all kinds of hedgerow berries, damsons seem particularly generous and inviting. These gorgeous plums have skins that are dark as midnight and overlaid by a soft, dusky bloom. When they start to arrive around the end of August, they put themselves forth in profusion, weighing down the branches like great purple gems. As long as you have access to a ladder, they are extremely easy to gather. And as long as you have some sugar in your kitchen, they are immensely rewarding to cook.
It is technically possible to enjoy damsons straight off the tree, but only if you've found the right variety growing in a sunny spot so they're burstingly ripe – and that's a state that the local bird and wasp populations are unlikely to consent to. If you pick them sooner, eaten raw they will probably overwhelm you with tannic, cheek-hollowing sourness. However, like so many tart fruits, once cooked and sweetened, they surrender the most wonderful, complex, deep flavour.
They make glorious crumbles and cobblers, fabulous ice-creams and sorbets, and a sophisticated, wine-dark jam that is one of the finest things you'll ever get out of a preserving pan. It's not hard, either: just simmer 2kg damsons with 800ml water until soft, scoop out the stones with a slotted spoon, add 2.3kg sugar, stir to dissolve, boil for 10 minutes then test for the setting point.
So keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks and, if you spot some branches laden with purple fruit, make the most of it as soon as you can. It only takes one enthusiast with preserving ambitions to strip a tree, and much disappointment can result from thinking, "Ooh, I'll come back for those in a couple of days. "
Of course, the surest way to avoid such pitfalls is to grow your own. The trees are pretty hardy and, if you have limited space, can be trained against a sunny fence or wall. Or, for faux wildness, stick them in a hedge (clear away competitive growth around the planting site first). Excellent varieties include the Farleigh damson and the Shropshire prune damson, while King and Merryweather are, when ripe, both sweet enough to eat raw. Even the tame ones taste pretty wild, so I predict you will find them impossible to resist.
Delicious damson recipes
Some people are worth their weight in gold. In my road there's a gardener – he seems to tend most of the gardens round here – who knows exactly what everyone is growing. Gerry puts people who cook in touch with people who have produce they don't know what to do with. This is how I get bags of plums and apples delivered to my door (and even gorgeous scented rose petals for making jelly), and how I have just returned from Cindy's (a woman I had never previously met) with an enormous haul of damsons.
Damsons always arrive when I am not quite ready for them – September – and they were earlier than usual this year. Look at them: they're the blue-black colour of a night sky in frost. They were surely made for the depths of autumn or winter. And they have a lovely velvety bloom. If I could find a sofa the colour and texture of damsons I'd lie on it till Christmas.
Damsons are not for eating raw they're tart little blighters. But that's the best thing about them. Despite having a sweet tooth I am always looking for sour flavours to put into puddings. Pears are lovely but they're no good in a crumble, for example – it's a cloying mass of buttery sweetness. What I can't resist is the contrast between tart and sweet as they chase each other round my mouth. That's why damsons make such wonderful crumbles, pies and sponges.
The stones, which are impossible to remove before cooking, are a pain. You can sieve them out if you are making a fool but not if you're putting them in a crumble, so you have to warn guests not to break their teeth on them. Damsons are also quite 'wet' – full of juice – so I often pair them with plums (they're in the same family) to provide a bit of body along with that mouth-puckering flavour.
They're a great jam fruit, too, and make a preserve that will set without the traditional amount of sugar. I like my damson jam fortified with a generous slug of gin. Damsons love a slug of gin in fact they love a bath of it. Put 500g (1lb 2oz) in a big kilner jar (prick each one with a skewer first), cover with 600ml (1 pint) gin, add 250g (9fl oz) sugar, shake and leave to steep for three to four months (shaking from time to time), before straining and bottling the resulting liqueur. That's a perfect drink to end a wintery meal, and if you can resist drinking it all before next summer you can make damson gin and tonics, too.
So I'm very happy with my haul there's more than enough to do with it. And, Gerry, if you're reading this, you need to be on the lookout for a tree laden with big fat quinces. I'm sure there's one somewhere in north London…
The Cottage Smallholder
Left to right: wild damsons, bullace and eating plum
Wild damsons (the ones in the bowl) are the size of a small olive and have the same elongated shape. The dark bluish skins have the same greyish tinge of a sloe or dark plum. The flesh is a yellow orange and the stone small. If you want an instant tongue defuzz bite into one – it is very sharp but not quite as bitter as a sloe. The leaves of a tree are similar to a plum leaf but smaller.
The photo shows wild damsons, a bullace and a dark plum. A cherry plum is smaller than a bullace but larger than a wild damson. A sloe is similar in colour to a wild damson but it is round.
Wild damsons are so hard to find that if you do discover them on a foraging expedition, never share the whereabouts with anyone. I did this once and returned to find the tree bare. To add salt to the wound the fruit was still not ripe. You can leave unripe fruit on a windowsill to ripen but it will not swell or be at its best. Wild damson trees tend to be spindly. They are hedgerow plants. Deep in their ancestry they have sloe and cherry plum relations.
It’s OK leave a sealed envelope for your family to be opened after your death but never divulge your secret. It is the key fruit in one of the best homemade liqueurs know to man or beast – wild damson vodka. Clean tasting, heart hugging grog.
Even Gilbert doesn’t know where my secret tree is located.
There is one couple that does. They spotted it when they came to the Cottage Smallholder party last month.
“There’s a tree out there with small purple olive shaped berries…”
My heart sank.
“Are they wild damsons?”
I couldn’t lie – the couple were new friends after all. The fruit weren’t ripe but generally this doesn’t rein in the keenest foragers.
“You’ve found my secret tree. Let’s share.”
Better half a harvest than none at all.
Over the years I’ve grown with this tree. First just enough fruit for a tiny bottle, then a half bottle moving up through the sizes to a litre bottle of wild damson gin last year. Each one treasured and hidden away in the barn. The gin was very good but I think that the vodka version wins hands down. Sharper, cleaner and fruitier tasting.
I hadn’t had the heart to look at the ‘secret tree’ until a couple of days ago. I glanced up at the tree. It was heavy with fruit. I gathered all that I could reach and my pockets were bulging. Enough for two litres of wild damson vodka and more to make a fine jelly for lamb, turkey or game – if I climb up a wall and use my foraging walking stick to gently pull down the laden branches.
Thank you Chris (aka Paperman on our forum) and Anne. At Easter you’ll receive a slim bottle in the post and before that some interesting and intoxicating wild damson jelly to enhance your Christmas jollifications. And there will be regular bribes to guarantee that your lips are sealed.
Damson recipes – without the distress
They may be a pain to pit, but once they’re prepped and cooked it’s easy to see why these intensely flavoursome little plums are back in vogue.
Damsons are a very English fruit. Even the name, derived from Damascus, has a whiff of crusades and damsels in distress, although it is likely that the diminutive plums arrived on these shores with the Romans, not Richard the Lionheart.
Until the Second World War, damson jam and dense, sweet damson cheese were dinner-table staples in British households and the fruit was grown commercially in the Midlands and North West, both for culinary purposes and for dye – the plums produce a splendid stain, as you will find if you spill some of the juices.
But damsons have fallen out of favour recently, relegated largely to a gardener’s fruit, although a few plantations survive. Around Ludlow the locals are fiercely loyal to the Shropshire prune, a particularly small example of the damson, barely larger than a good-size grape. In the Lyth Valley, in a part of Cumbria once called Westmorland, they grow a close relative of the Shropshire prune but, according to the Westmorland Damson Association website, “improved by the unique conditions”. Would the people of Shropshire agree? Jam pans at dawn, I think.
Happily, there seems to be a renewed interest in damsons all over the country, along with other fine British produce such as cobnuts and samphire. Even the supermarkets are catching on. Booths, the Northern chain, is stocking damsons as part of its support of Slow Food’s Forgotten Foods programme, which aims to protect regional foods threatened with extinction.
And damsons are worth saving, with a taste that is positively swashbuckling. Not raw, mind you, when they are mouth-dryingly sour. Their moment of glory comes when they are cooked, the heat drawing the juice out of the dusky skins and with it the most extraordinary depth of flavour.
Damsons are to plums what port is to red wine, richer, darker, stronger – and not for everyone. Sometimes, even for me, they can be just too strongly flavoured, almost headache-inducingly intense. Temper the powerful plumminess by mixing them in a pud, with generous amounts of crumble, or use them to stud a clafoutis or cut the sweetness of ice cream. The purée – what restaurants used to call a coulis, until (alleluia) English terms such as sauce came back into fashion – is gorgeous with hazelnut cake or meringues.
Preparing them is, I admit, a bit of a faff. They are small, so stoning them is more work per pound than with larger plums. As with all stone fruit, when halving them find the crease in the skin and cut between the cheeks and all around, then twist apart. This way the stone will be lying flat in one half, easier to lever out. With damsons, however, finding the crease can be tricky.
Then the fruit are what horticulturalists call “clingstone” – the flesh adheres bullishly, so you will lose some when extracting the pit. A small, sharp knife will help slice it out.
The alternative is to cook the fruit whole. They quickly collapse to a purée, and some recipes promise that the stones will rise to the top, to be easily scooped off. I find this unreliable. Even for jam, when the vigorous boiling makes it somewhat more efficient as a method, there are likely to be a few tooth-breakers left in the mix. Which leaves you with sieving the purée — tedious for large quantities, although a friend tells me that an electric sieve attachment for a tabletop mixer makes short work of it.
Never mind. The rewards are very fine, and there are some compensatingly simple recipes below. Damsons are worth a little (very short-lived) distress.
Weigh your damsons and put them in a pan with one third of their weight in caster sugar. Add enough water to come about 3cm, or an inch, up the side of the pan. Heat gently, until the sugar is dissolved, shaking the pan from time to time. Raise the heat and simmer until the fruit is collapsing and bathed in ruby syrup.
Scoop off any stones that rise to the top. Pour into a sieve (placed over a bowl) and rub through the purée using a ladle. Taste and sweeten more if it needs it.
Damson Jelly Recipe
At this time of year, a time of ‘mellow fruitfulness’ , the fruit trees and bushes in East Yorkshire are weighed down heavily with their luscious bounty, just crying out to be picked by avid cooks and made into mouthwatering dishes to tempt friends and family alike. Our Kitchen Garden fruit trees are babies, only a few months old, and probably next year we will be able to pick our own apples, pears, damsons, greengages, Mirabelle plums, Sloes, and bowl upon bowl of raspberries, blackberries and loganberries. Eventually we hope to plan an edible hedge, full of berries and nuts, to feed both us and the birds.
But for now, it’s down to the shops, and also picking the wild fruit from the overflowing hedgerows. So I’ve found two recipes which I really like the look of, and they both epitomise the essence of an early English autumn. That morning chill in the air, that extra bright light in the sky, woolly jumpers, the smell of the first coal fires or log burners – could it be the start of ‘comfort food’ time?
Damson Jelly Recipe
Courtesy of BBC Good Food
Cook/Chill Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Yield: It depends on the amount of juice extracted.
This Damson Jelly recipe is from Mary Cadogan, taken from BBC Good Food. This jelly is absolutely perfect for toast or scones, but also is a perfect match to enhance the flavour of roast meats, such as Venison, Beef and Pork. NOTE: Cooling time also needs to be added to the cooking time.
This Damson Jelly Recipe is definitely one from “the Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness.” Some reviewers suggested to add a pinch of chilli, or if for Christmas, add some cloves, orange zest and cinnamon. What I love about cooking is that you can take a recipe and play about with it to suit yourself, and it’s purpose. Have fun.
Next is a great dessert recipe, from the master of desserts, James Martin. This is also taken from BBC Good Food, and received more brilliant reviews than any recipe I have seen before. But, stupid me, that’s what happens when you have time away from blogging – I forgot that I can’t put more than one recipe in a blog post now, so the next recipe is in the next post. Believe me, this next one sounds very, very good. We are going to have it this weekend!
Wild damson crumble recipe - Recipes
Zwetschgenkuchen , a delectable German Plum Cake, also called Sommerkuchen-summer cake , or Zwetschgendatschi is available during the late summer during the damson plum harvest. Datschi , presumably come from a southern German dialect datschen or detschen , means to press in , is a sheet cake (could be prepared in a springform pan too) made with a yeast dough or short pastry, and very often has a streusel topping, which is similar to a crumble. Streusel comes from the German word streusen , to scatter, which is how the topping is applied to the cake. The recipe is adapted from daheim und unterwegs - wdr.
- 400 g All purpose flour
- 2 tsp Baking powder
- 160 g Cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 90 g Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Lemon peel, finely grated
- 2 Small eggs
- 2 tbsp Milk
- 1200 g Damson plums
- 125 g Sugar
- 150 g Butter
- 200 g Flour
- 3/4 tsp Cinnamon powder (optional)
- Place all the ingredients for the crust in a bowl, mix them well to form a dough. Chill the dough, wrapped well with a plastic film, for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, wash and dry the damson plums. Cut them open and remove the stones. Grease a 28cm springform pan. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Remove the dough from the fridge and press it onto the bottom of prepared pan. Lightly press the damson plums into the crust.
- Use a fork or spoon to combine all the topping ingredients until mixture is like coarse cornmeal. Taste and adjust cinnamon to your liking. Sprinkle streusel topping over the damsons.
- Bake the cake in the center of hot oven for about 45-55 minutes until done and beautiful golden brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Unmould and serve at room temperature.
Potted Crab Apple Cheese with Red Chili and Garlic
A wonderful bonus from wild-fruit jelly making is that you can concoct a superb fruit cheese with the pulp left in the jelly bag!
Turn out the cheese and cut a slice to melt over hot meat - chops or steak - or on a jacket potato. Eat a slice with strong flavoured cheese and an apple for a Ploughman's Lunch. Packed nicely, it would make a lovely gift at Christmas.
It's very easy to make (if a little time consuming!) and quite unique. You spoon it into small dishes and keep it for several weeks in the fridge to become perfect. (If you have little ramekin dishes like the ones above - Sainsburys at £1 each - which are freezer-proof - the cheese freezes really well too.) And yes - of course fairies know about Sainsburys - who else would buy our beeswax wood polish.
Ingredients: (Should make approx 6 x 9cm - 3½", by 4cm - 1½" deep pots)
Follow the ingredients for the Crab Apple Jelly above adding:
* Red chillies to taste - finely chopped (I used two x medium-hot ones roughly 8cm - 3" long,)
* 1 large clove garlic, finely chooped
* Approx 400g - 12oz white sugar per 560ml - 1 pint strained fruit pulp
Method: Follow method for making the fruit jelly above until you have the bag of fruit pulp with the juice drained from it overnight - then :
* Grease or oil the ramekin dishes well.
* Push the fruit pulp through a seive (preferably nylon) with a wooden spoon, collecting the resulting seived pulp in a bowl.
(See picture left)
* Measure the seived pulp - put into a heavy bottomed pan with the right amount of sugar and heat gently - stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.
* Add the chopped chili and garlic, stir well and simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes until it begins to noticeably thicken.
* Spoon into the greased pots to set, cover and keep.
The flavours improve with keeping!
When you're ready to try it, turn out and cut a small slice!
The fruit cheese also freezes beautifully, so you can have your cheese accompaniment for months!
Plums, greengages and damsons
I have a small Victoria plum tree in my garden in Suffolk, and I love eating them straight from the tree in late summer, giving them a faint squeeze to see which ones are fully ripe, then eating just a few each day for breakfast and lunch until they’re all gone.
There are several other varieties of home-grown plums, all suitable for cooking or eating raw when fully ripe. Greengages, because of their colour, are deceptive – they can look unripe and forbidding but taste very sweet. I like to cook both greengages and plums in a compote of Marsala wine - see recipe below. Damsons are my favourite members of the plum family. The true damson is small and oval, almost almond-shaped, with dark indigo-purple skin, covered in a soft bloom and bright-green, sharp-sour flesh that when cooked with sugar, produces darker, reddish-purple juice. The secret of the damson’s utter charm is that because it’s a sharp fruit its flavour is not killed by sugar, so damson jam remains perfectly tart and not over-sweet. One of my all-time favourite recipes is for Damson Chutney: in over 30 years I've never been without a little hoard of it stashed away in my cupboard under the stairs. It does wonders for bangers or makes a very sophisticated accompaniment to cold cuts, and I particularly love serving sausages with jacket potatoes and dipping the potato skins in a luscious pile of damson chutney.
Wild Damson and Custard Tart
Wild Damsons, Yellow or Deep Purple Bullaces, Wild Plums or even Wild Greengages in fact any of the Wild stoned fruits will work with this recipe, the only rule is that the fruit needs to be really ripe! I would call this a weekend recipe as it does take a little time to prepare.. But as the saying goes ‘all good things to those who wait’. This definitely confirms this wise rule.
Damson and Custard Tart
125g Butter cut into small pieces
1 Tsp Golden Caster Sugar
Half and pit your Damsons, store in the fridge until ready.
First the pastry, on a clean surface pile the flour and make a little well in the middle. Make sure that your butter is just soft enough to work and place it in the flour well. Also, add your egg sugar and salt (really pinch your salt in to make it as fine as possible). Now using your fingers draw in the flour and similar to making crumble mix pinch the ingredients until thoroughly mixed and the dough begins to hold together. When the dough is in a firm ball wrap in cling film and allow to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Got a glut of Damsons? You can replace the Yellow Bullace for Damsons in my Hot Yellow Bullace Chutney.
Now for the custard filling, whisk the egg yolks and about a 1/3rd of the sugar together, when thoroughly mixed add the flour and continue to whisk until completely combined.
On the stove, in a small pan heat the milk with the remaining sugar and the vanilla pod (make sure that you split the pod, scrape out the seeds and add them all to the milk). When the mixture comes to the boil pour it onto the egg yolk mixture, whisking the whole while. Mix well and then return the mix back to the pan that you heated the milk in.
Looking for other Wild inspired sweet treats? Check out my Rosehip Slice recipe.
Bring the mixture back up to the boil and on a medium heat cook for 2 minutes – important keep whisking and checking the bottom of the pan preventing it from catching, you are looking for a firm sauce consistency.
The Custard or Crème Patissiere is cooked. It will make a skin quickly so place a little circle baking paper over the liquid until ready.
Get the oven warming up to 190 degrees.
Now the assembly, you’ll need a flan case, say 20 to 25 cm. Line it, butter it and place a round of baking paper in the bottom of the case. Roll out the flan pastry in a larger round than the flan case, on the back of a rolling pin pick up the pastry and unroll it over the flan case. Ease it into the case and then press in until perfectly lined. Using a fork prick the bottom of the flan pastry and then evenly spoon the custard over the base (remove the Vanilla pod prior to pouring out the custard). Then try and create a nice pattern with the Damsons laying them cut side down, when the top is completely covered in the purple fruits its ready for the oven. Cook at 190 degrees for 30 minutes the pastry should begin to cook and crisp and the Damsons soften. Once the 30 minutes is up turn the oven up to 200 degrees, sprinkle the top of the tart with a little more caster sugar and return to the hot oven for 10 minutes. You want the sugar to caramelise and turn delicious!
Once cooked, that’s it. You can allow it to cool, serve it hot, whatever, just enjoy!