Damsons in Distress

Recipes for damson gin & damson pie by Jenny Costa

Damsons are at their best in September, so now is the perfect time to get creative in the kitchen with these beautiful yet often overlooked fruits. They aren't generally eaten raw as their rather sour taste is more suitable for cooking. They are especially good for jams and jellies, pies and tarts and can even be used in savoury recipes with meats such as lamb or pork. Here's our recipe for damson gin which takes 3 months to infuse so will be ready for Christmas! 

Damson Gin

Ingredients:

- Kilner jars

- 100g sugar

- 500g damsons (either prick or I like to cut them in half to help get more flavor out into the gin). If you're picking the damsons yourself, look for juicy fruits with firm flesh.

- 600ml gin

 Method:

- Clean the damsons and prick them with a fork. Half fill up your clean kilner jars with damsons and add the sugar.

- Leave until sugar turns pink (this normally takes around a week).

- Add the gin, shake and store in cool and dark place. Swill & shake the mixture every few days.

- After at least three months, sieve the mixture to remove the damson and pour the liquid into glass bottles.

Food Waste Tip:

With the left-over gin-soaked damsons, I love to stew them up and serve with crème fraiche (add extra sugar to taste).

Damson Pie 

Ingredients:

- Pie dish

-400g Damsons

- 100g Sugar (or adjust to your taste)

- Short crust pastry (we cheated with shop bought pastry but if you want to make your own, even better!) 

Method:

1. Wash and remove any leaves or stems from your damsons

2. Put them in a pan with an inch of water at start to slowly heat

3. Once simmering, the damsons will start to split. At this point, remove from the pan and cool.

4. Then the messy job of de stoning begins! Have your pie dish and an empty bowl ready and start de-stoning with your hands, putting the juicy damson flesh into the pie dish and chucking the stones into the empty bowl. (If you want to avoid the mess, de-stone your damsons with a sharp knife before you stew)

5. Mix in the sugar (adding more or less if needed) and lay your pre made/ bought short crust pastry on top.

6. Prick with a fork and place in the oven for 20mins or until brown. For a lovely golden top (and if you have a spare egg) use a pastry brush to paint the top with egg yoke. 

This will make your pie really glisten! 

I love this pie served with creme fraiche or a good thick natural yogurt.