I’ve always liked the idea of food for free or making the most of the seasonal resources around us. I don’t think I’ve missed many years when it comes to making the most of the brambles along our local (city) railway walk or around the hedgerows of the countryside.
The day before yesterday, though, I got permission from the farm to harvest the wild Damsons and Elderberries that grow among the trees of their spinney.
I tried to make jam and chutney last year using plums from our neighbour’s (city) tree but failed miserably and ended up throwing most of it away because it had acquired a strange black layer at the top, just under the lid.
My darling friend V, who is the most heavenly cook and can turn anything into a feast, advises me that making jam couldn’t be easier. With one monumental failure under my belt, my trepidation was slightly understandable even if this jam making business should be simple!
Anyway, I searched for a recipe on the internet and downloaded one from the ’Allotment Vegetable Growing’ (link shown) website and set about it. It advises that Damsons should be idiot proof and a good place to start for novice jam makers as it would seem they are high in Pectin. This means they shouldn’t need any adding to make the jam or jelly set. My harvest of Damson’s was quite ripe so I decided that de-stoning them before cooking was a good plan and had been helpfully suggested by one contributor to the web site. I left some Damsons un-stoned to see if they would rise to the surface when the jam was in the fast boil stage (as it seems they should). They did but it was a bit of a fag on getting them out of the mush. De-stone them before cooking is my advice!
Not only did I learn a huge amount of new and really useful stuff about Damsons and jam making, but my fear has also gone because IT WORKED!!!! and I now have about a dozen jars of delicious Damson Jam, some of which I have already gifted to my sis and the farm (only seems polite).
I still have about 5lbs left which I have frozen along with about 2lbs of Elderberries that I am going to turn into a pie when we next have people over for sunday lunch.
I am ridiculously very delighted with myself……..