Damsons are a subspecies of the Plum family and have a really high fruit rate, great for bakers out there. Now the trees themselves may not be the most elegant or attractive but they are low fuss. I only prune mine if it gets damaged or a branch is really growing in the wrong place.
If I need to prune I always do in summer to avoid silver leaf disease. However, unlike other fruit trees, such as apples, that need regular maintenance pruning to encourage fruiting, Damsons are almost the reverse. Neglect seems to bring bountiful fruit yields!
What to do with Damsons?
So here are my Top 3 speedy Damson recipes to help you get the most out of your Damson harvests. These Damson recipes are for the time-poor gardener/cook who suddenly finds themselves with a bucketful of Damsons and needs to make good use of them! Watch my video guide below to make Damson Jam, Gin and crumble.
When should I harvest Damsons?
September is the ideal time to harvest juicy Damsons in the UK. To tell if Damsons are ripe give them a light squeeze if they feel solid like bullets they need another week or so. If they are soft to the squeeze they are ready. They should pull off easily and be edible not tart or rock solid!
If you haven’t got your own tree you can often find people online complaining of too many Damsons. So you can always find someone with spare fruit to go and pick. Obviously always ask permission but they are really easy to harvest by simply twisting off the fruits.
Should I destone my damsons?
Now as a disclaimer, there are two camps of Damson cookers. Those who destone their damsons and those that don’t. Destoning Damsons is a laborious process but it does result in an easier eating experience. I tend not to destone my damsons for speed. It’s entirely up to you but you have been warned!
How to make Damson Gin
Damson gin is probably the easiest thing to make with a glut of Damsons and is the perfect Christmas or winter tipple! In fact, it delicious neat over ice or used to perk up a glass of Prosecco when entertaining friends!
- 500g Damsons Frozen
- 75cl of Dry Gin
- 250g Caster Sugar
- Airtight container
This method for making you own Damson Gin could not be simpler.
- Freeze your Damsons overnight in a bag or Tupperware
- Add the Damsons, Sugar and Gin to an airtight container like a mason jar or Kilner jar
- Give it a really good shake
- Put it into a cupboard, somewhere out of direct sunlight, for 2-3 months. Shaking each week to ensure the sugar has dissolved.
- When ready pass the gin through some muslin to sift out the debris and decant into a bottle. That’s it!
Damson Jam Recipe
Making Damson jam is super easy, given the extraordinarily high pectin levels in the fruit. This means the jam sets without the need of special jam sugar or added pectin.
- 1kg Damsons
- 1kg Caster Sugar
Again this method is so simple, especially if you can tolerate leaving the stones in the Damson. This way it’s effortless.
- Add your Sugar to the largest pan you have and place on the highest heat of the stove or hob.
- Add the fruit and stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Bring to a rapid boil for 10 mins – don’t stir
- Whilst this is happening wash 4 jam jars. Then place in an oven or microwave to sterilise them. Usually, 5 mins does it.
- Either use a Jam thermometer to check if it has reached the setting point. Alternatively, use a cold saucer out of the fridge. Add a blob of jam onto it, if it quickly forms a skin it’s done. If not give it another 2 mins.
- Lift out your jars and use a ladle to pour the jam into the jar. Leave to cool then add your lids.
- This jam will store for over a year if you don’t devour it first!
Damson Crumble (Serves 6 or 4 hungry diners)
Who doesn’t love a fruity crumble after Sunday lunch? Crumbles are super easy to make and with the insane amount of pectin in your Damsons these crumbles are super sticky and delicious!
- 800g Fresh Damsons
- 1 tablespoon of Brown Sugar
- 2 peeled and cored Apples
- 250g Plain Flour
- 160g Brown Sugar
- 150g Butter
This crumble recipe is so easy and delicious. Especially if you have unexpected guests. You can be kind and destone but if in a hurry I wouldn’t bother. Just explain to your guests to watch out when they tuck in. It depends on how friendly you are!
- Add your Damsons (stoned or not) to an ovenproof dish.
- Peel and core your two apples. Slice and add to the Damsons.
- Sprinkle over a tablespoon of brown sugar – any type of brown sugar will do.
- Make your crumble by adding all the crumble ingredients to a food processor. Blitz until it turns to crumbs.
- Cover the fruit and bake for 30 mins at 180c
- Serve immediately with cream or ice cream.
There we have my seriously simple Damson recipes. Unapologetically, they make the most of the tart taste of Damson without adding all sorts of other sweeter fruits. I like to keep things simple and celebrate the humble Damson.