Damsons are my absolute favourite autumnal fruit. They are so gorgeously good for you: known to improve the digestive system, lower cholesterol, protect against heart disease, strengthen bones, increase energy, optimise sleeping patterns, decrease your risk of certain types of cancer, and boost the immune system – they are also wonderfully versatile, a perfect addition to cakes, crumbles or compotes.
But my ultimate favourite is damson jam. This is more of a conserve that a jam as there is no added pectin to thicken it and it is mostly fruit – with little added sugar – and so yields a runnier texture. But trust me, this is the most delicious and satisfying spread you will ever eat, you’ll never bother with store-bought jam again :)
You can use the method below for plums, apricots, and blackberries too. I don’t mind having the stones in the jam – it also helps hold it together – however, you can always strain them out when the jam has boiled/before you do the first set test. Enjoy on porridge, yogurt, toast, scones, or dolloped on ice cream!
1 kg of fresh damsons
500g fine coconut sugar (you can also use graulated cane sugar)
juice of 1 lemon
1. Begin this the night before you actually want to make the jam. Take a large saucepan and place the damsons in layers in the base of the pan and sprinkle each layer with the coconut sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Then cover with a clean cloth and leave them overnight – this pre-soaking in sugar firms up the fruit.
2. The next morning, place three small plates into the freezer (this is for testing the set), then place the pan over a medium heat and, stirring constantly, let the coconut sugar completely dissolve (should take around 15 minutes). It’s very important that the sugar is completely dissolved; otherwise the preserve will be sugary. Next turn the heat right up and let the mixture boil rapidly for about 10-20 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking.
3. Next take your cold plates out of the freezer, remove the pan from the heat and place a teaspoonful of the preserve on one of the plates.
4. Allow it to cool for a few seconds, then push it with your finger: if a crinkly skin has formed on the jam, then it has set. If it hasn't set, boil it again for another 5 minutes and do another test.
5. When you have a set, remove the preserve from the heat and let it settle for 15 minutes before pouring it into the warmed sterilised jars.
6. Seal while still warm and label the jars when cold.