We didn't get a good harvest this year from our Victoria Plum trees this year but we didn't let that put us off getting our annual fix of prunus domestica. Oh no........
When we were up in the Cotswolds the other day for a day out at Westonbirt we walked Oscar and Ivy and found a damson tree in the hedgerow up by Kemble. What did we do? Well we filled our boots and picked as many of those damsons as we could fit in those little doggy bags. You know the ones……
And what did we then do with them? Well we took them home, washed them off and removed all the leaves and stalks and then popped them in the freezer.
Now we’re ready to use them. We’ve got two ideas. Firstly Damson gin – and this is really easy. We’re using 750 grams of damsons, 325g of golden caster sugar and 1 ½ litres of gin. We’ll need a 3 litre jar to mix it all up in – we’re using a 3 litre Kilner jar. This is what we did.
Rinsed and picked over the damsons to remove any leaves and stalks, then patted them dry, tipped into a freezer bag and froze them overnight. The next day, we bashed the bag of damsons a couple of times with a rolling pin and then tipped the lot into our Kilner jar.
Then we poured in the sugar and gin, and put the lid on and gave it a good shake. Then what we'll do every day for a week is give the jar a good shake until all the sugar has dissolved, then put it in a cool, dark place and leave for 2-3 months. That’ll be just in time for Christmas then!
When it’s time we’ll line a plastic sieve with a square of muslin and strain the damson gin through it. Then we’ll pour into clean, dry bottles and then seal and label them. The gin is now ready to drink, and if we can find some fancy bottles some might be given as gifts. The rest – possibly most of it – will be kept. Some of that we’ll drink in front of the fire on a cold Winter’s night and if we can resist the urge to keep drinking it then some of will be kept – like most things it’ll mature with age!
And the rest of the damsons? We'll be making jam. Soon.......