Damson JamApologies for the absence: not only have we been away for a weekend (to attend a cousin’s wedding and visit with family), i also rather promptly fell ill with a rotten stinker of a cold  and have been resting up for most of the last two weeks. However, i feel somewhat better now, and when i spied a big box of damsons in the market in Ashton yesterday… i thought of damson jam, and of course, that’s what i’ve been doing this afternoon (as well as making bread. After all, what’s a pot of jam with no bread to spread it on?).

i’ve never had damsons before, or damson jam, and i was quite unprepared for the lovely flavour. i first tasted it after i’d tipped the sugar in (so it was at the syrup stage) and even then i was like .. OMMGGG.. Michiel came in at that point and went.. “that good is it?” i just dipped the spoon back in and handed it to him silently. he tasted, then went.. “OMG, you’re right”. and i set to boiling with a vengenance. Got 1 large jam jar and 4 and a half little ones out of the 2 and a half pounds i cooked up. And i’m sorely tempted to go back to the market on monday to get some more damsons.

The recipe is behind the cut if anyone is interested. This was my first foray into the wierd and wonderful world of jam making: i got a book on preserves in general from the library yesterday as well and i’ve been salivating over some truly wonderful food descriptions, so i think i can safely say that it won’t be the last. I must work on decreasing the sugar in the jam though: Michiel though the damson jam was far too sweet. Which is a shame. I think its lovely.

put 2 and a half pounds of damsons in a large pan (I used my pressure cooker pan) with 1 and a quarter pints of cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer till mushy (which was not very long at all – i just pushed a damson with the back of a wooden spoon to see if it would go to mush), then drain into a large bowl through a sieve. You’re supposed to NOT use a metal sieve for this but i used a metal one and didn’t have any problems. (oops.) anyway, i mushed the gloop around in the sieve, pushing as much pulp through the sieve as i could for about 10/20 minutes (hard work, that part), then tossed the stones/gloop and put as much of the dark red pulp as i could scrape off the bottom of the sieve (the underside) back into the liquid as possible.

the recipe then told me to measure out the liquid/pulp – for every 500ml of liquid, i was to measure out 1 and a quarter pounds of sugar. I ended up with just over 1200ml of liquid/pulp, so measured out about 2 and three quarter pounds of sugar, put all of it back in the pressure cooker and started to reheat it slowly. I also had glass jars drying in the oven already (i just washed them in hot soapy water then put them in the oven for 10 minutes on gas mark 3, then switched the oven off but kept the door closed till i was ready to bottle). once the sugar had dissolved (i.e. you couldn’t feel the grittiness when you scraped the wooden spoon along the bottom of the pan, or see it on the back of the spoon) i turned the heat up to bring it to the boil, then had it as high as i dared on a rolling boil. Be warned: its like milk, it does froth up so you must keep an eye on it in order to turn the heat down if it threatens to boil over. I found that 2 and a half pounds of damsons was just enough – any more and i would’ve boiled over.

I let that boil for 10 minutes, then did the wrinkle test (keep some saucers in the freezer, after 10 minutes, bring one out, spoon some jam onto the saucer, leave it a minute or so to cool, then push it with your finger, if it wrinkles and doesn’t fill in the “groove” made by your finger, then its ready. if it doesn’t wrinkle and fills back in quickly, then its not ready. spoon it back into the pan and boil for 5 minutes more). I did the wrinkle test every 5 minutes, but ended up boiling for nearly 30 minutes – i think perhaps because i wasn’t able to have the heat up very high. it was boiling, but only just. Once it was ready, i left it for 5 minutes for the fruit to settle, then spooned it into the hot jars, put the lid ontop straight way to seal.