Damson curd

DamsonJam-IMG_6142-webBack to London fruit for a while, in order to broaden our record of the varieties of plums that grow there and provide a recipe I haven’t tested myself.

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The story

On a fruit day last autumn at an allotment in Raynes Park – London, where I had been invited to judge a jam contest, I met a new allotment owner who had a damson tree. I must say that in this particular allotment there are many fruit trees.

Discussing what to do with the damsons, he mentioned damson curd. I said it was an interesting recipe to look for, which I did in the following days. I found one that sounded good and sent him the link, with an offer to test it with some of his damsons. He replied to thank me for sending the link and said that they would make it themselves.

I must say I was slightly disappointed, as I had searched for information and wouldn’t see a kilo of damsons. There was no reciprocity.

Anyway there was a positive side to the story. First I had found out about damson curd, which I wouldn’t have thought of if we hadn’t talked. And second, somebody did something with their own fruit, which is always good to know.

Damson curd recipe

The beauty of email is that you can find old conversations quickly. The person actually made the damson curd and offered to bring a sample at Abundance Wimbledon Fruit Day. I didn’t see him though, so couldn’t taste the result. I can only provide the link to the plum curd recipe I had sent to him: www.thompson-morgan.com/plum-curd-recipe. I guessed he just used damsons instead of Victoria plums, as I would have done.

Something to test in the future! And the name of the allotments where I judged this jam contest, tasted such a great lemon marmalade – I remember very well – and where we could see so beautiful baskets of flowers, fruits and vegetables: Cottenham Park allotments, South West London, 2.2 miles away from the All England, home of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships… Blessed location!

Damson jam

I quite like damson jam. It is slightly tart. I was given damsons at the beginning of September and made some. I had brought a jar of it at the Wimbledon Common Stables Open Day and somebody liked it so much that she came on purpose to buy some at Abundance Fruit day a week later. I hadn’t brought any on that day, so I took her email address. Unfortunately I couldn’t read her handwriting and despite trying several spellings I couldn’t reach her. A shame she wouldn’t have the pleasure to eat some of this jam she liked so much.

The consistency of the jam was great. Not too set, just right. I must have cooked it for just ten minutes, and it set by itself quite nicely. I remember taking off the stones one by one during the cooking, and just after, as it is difficult to remove them from the raw fruit.

DamsonJam-IMG_6142-web

This damson jam is not too set (click on picture to enlarge). Perfect consistency to spread on a toast or a biscuit. I hope I can make damson curd in the future. Photo 26 May 2014, Aurillac, France.

More on damsons, including visuals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damson.

5 thoughts on “Damson curd

  1. Do you know about damson cheese? So called because it is totally set, like the Spanish quince membrillo. If you would be interested in the recipe, please contact me. Slices of damson cheese, eaten with brie or properly aged cheddar are sublime!

    • Many thanks Frederica for your comment and offer. Damson cheese must be an interesting alternative to quince membrillo, with a different taste, more tart, and a nice colour too. It would be great if you could post a link to the recipe here, or let me know how I can get in touch.
      An other advantage of damson cheese may be that damson trees are more common in London gardens than quince trees, which would give more opportunities to make some. I don’t have statistics yet my feeling is that this is the case. And there are other varieties of tart plums available anyway which could be used to make that cheese. These yellow plums picked in Wimbledon for instance would have been perfect I think: https://lesjardinsdici.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/new-background-image/.
      I imagine a traditional cheese plate with an orange, a dark red and a yellow membrillos/cheeses made with London plums and quinces shared with friends in a British family house… A must of refinement?

      • I am enclosing 2 damson recipes – they come from pamphlets from a 70’s tv series called Farmhouse Kitchen. To my horror, I realised that I have been making damson cheese for nearly 40 years! I have to agree, I have not spied any quinces locally – just pyrus japonica. I mentioned membrillo simply to give you an idea of the consistency of the cheese. The yellow plums, which most probably are bullaces, may well make an excellent cheese; years ago I tried making blackberry cheese and it was not a success. I pretty much follow the recipe for pickled damsons, which are sublime with cold meats, but I have made a couple of changes in the cheese recipe. I find the easiest way to cope with the plums is to fill a large le creuset casserole with the damsons, cover with water then pop into the oven and turn it to 150ºC. I let it cook for about an hour, until the juices are flowing, then take it out and let it cool. I then don a pair of Lakeland disposable gloves and delve in to destone. I then mush up the pulp with my stick blender and proceed with the rest of the recipe. Beware, the sugary pulp can spit, causing nasty burns! The writer is right – try to wait at least a year, as the cheese matures. We tend to eat the cheese about 5 years old, when it has a crystalised top! The damsons on the common, to the right of the Causeway, look quite good this year. Do you know that they come from damsons planted during WW1, when that part of the common was dug up for victory allotments? That is why there are also some very rare old apple varieties, horseradish and raspberries still in the vicinity. I have a neighbour who continually moans about the pears and apples falling unwanted in her precious garden – I shall make it known to her about abundancewimbledon, as it distresses me to see provender going to waste. With best wishes, Frederica

  2. Thanks Frederica. “Wait at least a year, as the cheese matures”: interesting, I’ll try that.
    Thanks also for the Wimbledon Common anecdote, I like this place so much, a bit of history attached to it makes it even better. You may like this post: https://lesjardinsdici.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/blackberry-jam-or-blackberry-coulis/ , about the common’s blackberries and apples.
    And I am sure your neighbour will feel much better once she knows good use has been made of her pears and apples. Abundance Wimbledon, like this blog, aims at two ways benefits: for the gardens owners and for the fruit users.
    Best wishes, Jean-Jacques

  3. Pingback: Stoning plums | Les jardins d'ici

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