You may have noticed that I fell off the bloggy wagon this week into silence; fear not, I am alive and well and dealing with natures' bounty.
My current husband kindly picked a shed load of damsons, sloes, blackberries, elderberries and cooking pears and apples last weekend. Following this foraging frenzy, I found myself with heaps of fruit that needed some kind of preserving.
Naturally, I have made some damson gin and sloe gin, hurrah! This is so easy, and simply involves dumping some damsons (sloes) and sugar into a large jar filled with gin. It should be ready for Christmas and perfect for getting slowly sozzled on a winters' eve in front of a roaring wood fire.
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon making Damson and Pear Chutney. We had roughly 5 kilos of damsons and every year I make a big old batch of damson chutney.
The damsons we pick are quite small, the size of large grapes, and whilst they are juicy and delicious, they are a bugger to de-stone. The best way to go about it is to cook them in some vinegar and whilst they are soft, squish them open and laboriously pick out the stones with your fingers. I usually wear rubber gloves for this activity to try to avoid staining my hands with hot damson juice.
I have been using Delia's recipe for Spiced Damson Chutney for the last couple of years and it is a big hit with friends and family. We eat it with cheese and cold meat and in sandwiches. I altered Delia's recipe this year by adding the pears instead of apples and using cider vinegar in place of malt vinegar. It takes a while, but after a few hours, it reduces down into a sticky, dark purple fruity heaven.
I have plans to make some Damson Cheese (think Quince Cheese) and some Damson and Gin Jam this week; such fun!