Written by Phil Brown, Badger Bushcraft Blog Wednesday, 26 October 2011 12:30
Damsons (Prunus domestica subsp. Insititia) are hanging in large pendulous bunches here in Kent, a real Garden of England for the wild food forager, and in this Badger Bushcraft Wild Food Blog we will be using them to produce one of the best and tastiest hedgerow jams.
Damson jam has been a firm favourite in our family since I can remember and with a real glut of fruit this season we have decided to exploit this and produce an initial large batch.
For this damson jam recipe we used:-
- 3kg Damsons
- 1.5ltrs Water
- 2.4kg Sugar
- A Large Maslin or Jam Pan
We collected 3kg of damsons from the edge of a field that is on a footpath near our base here in the Kentish village of Egerton. Despite the average weight of each damson ranging from 4-6g, this meant we harvested around 600 individual damsons; our target of 3kg was fulfilled in under ten minutes from several trees with branches that were bent low with the weight of this delicious bounty.
We took the damsons back to our HQ where they were sorted, washed and all storks and leaves removed before placing them in our Maslin jam pan with 1.5ltr of cold water.
The fruits and water were then brought to the boil and carefully crushed with a potato masher and simmered for a further 20 minutes.
We found that the potato mashed also served as an excellent rake to remove all of the damson stones, although this was quite time consuming it will prevent many of the stones making it into the final jam.
We then brought the damson liquid to the boil and added 2.4kg of sugar stirring continuously until the sugar had fully dissolved. This is a little less sugar than recommended in some damson jam recipes but we prefer to taste the full flavour of the fruit with slightly reduced sweetness.
We boiled the liquor for some 35 minutes before it was ready to set, obviously smaller batches might require less. During the boiling process any errant fruit stones should float to the surface and can be removed when skimming the jam.
Our method of testing for a good set is to place several dishes in the fridge to chill and at regular intervals take a half teaspoon of the liquor and pour it onto the edge of the chilled dish. When the jam is "about right" the liquid will quickly become quite viscous, sticking to the side of the dish and producing a soft skin that will wrinkle when gently touched with another spoon.
When the set is to you liking allow to cool somewhat before carefully potting into sterilized jam jars. Our method of sterilizing jars and lids is to wash the jars in hot water and then place them into a preheated oven at 170°C for about 5 minutes.
This recipe produced just over 3kg of the most delicious damson jam which we will enjoy and share with both clients and friends in the coming months.
Have you tried mixing damsons and plums together to make a jam? If not then check out this recipe for Damson and Plum Jam.