When we moved to our country home, the first thing we did after unpacking was to shake the ripe fruit from our “new” damson tree. Our new neighbours probably thought we were mad; Chris stood on a ladder with an extending lopper to shake the branches, and the girls and I stood underneath making a hammock with an old curtain! Damsons aren’t very nice to eat raw as they make your suck your cheeks right in, but they’re perfect for making the loveliest jam! I thought I’d share our very easy recipe which you can adapt to take advantage of whatever seasonal fruit you get your mitts on!
Firstly, check your fruit over for little maggoty friends! I like to give it a good rinse in a colander too, before weighing it and adding to the biggest saucepan you own.
Now, weigh out the same amount of sugar and add to the saucepan. You don’t need any fancy sugar – I’m convinced it’s just a ploy to get you to spend more! If you’re using a fruit which is low in pectin, you can always add that later on. Pop a saucer in the fridge, you’ll need it later.
Turn your hob onto a medium-high heat and stir regularly until the sugar has dissolved. This is where I share my secret tip! Damsons are loath to give up their stones. The first time we made jam we sifted the jam spoon by spoon, removing the stones. It took forever! Now I use a potato masher once the fruit is nice and soft, which releases the stones to float to the surface where you can rescue them with a slotted spoon. Much easier 🙂
Once you’ve got your jam to a rolling boil, reduce the heat for a bit and let it bubble. Scrape off any froth with a spoon. I use a sugar thermometer which tells me when it’s at jam temperature (105c). When it hits this point, fetch your saucer from the fridge and put a little dollop of jam on it. Pop it back in the fridge for 5 minutes, then push the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles, you’re done! If you have done this a few times and your jam still isn’t wrinkling, you’ll need to add a bit of pectin. You can either add some pureed apple, or use bottled pectin.
Take some sterilised jars (wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water, and leave in a hot oven to dry), and pour in your jam. Quickly screw on your lid (using a clean towel, or your fingers will melt) and ta-dah, you’ve made jam! I love our damson jam on croissants, and to change up a Vicky sponge; it keeps a little of it’s tartness which means it’s great paired with sweet things. It also makes a nice hostess gift if you’ve been invited somewhere lovely!