Autumn harvest

With fruit continuing to ripen earlier than the last few years, this week is becoming my ‘Processing Damsons’ week.

My other half loves Victoria plums and is very happy picking huge quantities of them but he prefers to eat them as they are. So, last Sunday, we went to our local pick your own fruit farm and picked a few pounds to keep him happy. Some were ripe, but most needed an extra week.

We also found a few Damson trees with lots of ripe fruit, so picked about 30 pounds!

This week, I am making loads of Damson chutney, Damson cheese and various other Damson recipes to use these small delicious plums. These should be available to buy in the run up to Christmas as well as at the Chiddingstone Castle Country Fair on Sunday 9 September, along with other preserves that I have been making.

I’d better get back to my preserving pan!

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Damson cheese

 

According to Sara Paston-Williams, Damson Cheese is one of the oldest traditional country dishes, always found piled up on the shelves of a country store cupboard.

I have tried a couple of recipes but prefer one that uses slightly less sugar. It still produces a sugar crust and will keep almost indefinitely! We love to eat it with cheese such as a mature cheddar or crumbly Lancashire, but it is also good added to enrich a venison casserole or gravy to accompany beef or game.

The damsons are cooked until soft, then pressed through a sieve. After adding sugar, the pulp is cooked again until thick and then stored in a cool place to mature.

 

 

Spiced damson chutney

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In September, I always go damson picking. Unfortunately, I don’t have a big garden but there are fruit farms nearby where you can pick as many as you want. I started making this damson chutney a couple of years ago and it is very popular. It is spicy and goes excellently with cold meats and cheeses. Try it with a Wensleydale cheese – delicious! I have supplied it to South Downs Cellars for inclusion in some of their Christmas hampers.

It contains damsons, apples, onions and raisins as well as the vinegar, sugar and spices. It keeps well in the fridge after opening.