Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Damson jam

I'm a girl of my word. If I make a promise, then I'll go to pretty much any length to keep it. Come hell or high water, it takes a lot for me to break my word. So when we promised Jon's parents that we were going to take some of their damson harvest off their hands, it was a promise that I wasn't going to take lightly.

And that is how it came to pass that we ended up with four bags of damsons.

Four bags. Not four piddling sandwich bags. But four plastic bags worth of damsons tucked away in our freezer, waiting for us to work our magic on them.

Two into the damson wine their way went. (soon to be blogged)
One still sits in the freezer.
And the other?
Well that took the path of damson jam.

I love damson jam. In a world where you can get strawberry jam all year round, likewise for apricot, blackberry and raspberry, I've never understood why damson jam seems to be the one that gets left behind? It's like the bad egg of the jam family - except it isn't. Nothing can beat the velvety richness of a homemade damson jam on doorstep thick slabs of bread and a smear of butter. Mmmn.

So thank you to Jon's parents. And cheers to promises left unbroken.

Simple Damson Jam
1kg damsons
1kg granulated or Preserving sugar
300ml water

Put your jam jars into an oven on a low heat for 15 minutes or in the dishwasher on a hot wash to sterilise
Chop the damsons into half, removing the stones from the centre.
Add the damsons and the water to the pan and cook until soft and pulpy
Add the sugar, stir until dissolved on a low heat
Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and bring the jam to a rolling boil until it has reached setting point
To test for setting point either take a very cold plate from the freezer and drop a bit of jam onto it. Leave for a few seconds. If it sets on the plate, it's ready. Or use a thermometer - setting point is 105 degrees
Funnel into sterilised jars and seal

A Seashore Ramble

Last weekend saw the continuation of the seafood foraging odyssey documented here few weeks ago. So last weekend we thought we would spread our wings a little further ashore in search for rock crabs, winkles and other rock Poole life.

Everyone knows that a forager, not least this one, is pretty useless on an empty stomach. I'd wanted to visit Rye for a long time and, as it was on the way to our foraging destination, it made for the perfect lunch stop.

Seafood was the theme of the day, so what else were we going to have for lunch? Twas brilliant and tasty, even though Jon's scallop with chorizo and parsnip puree was very much on the meagre side. Lots of scallops but very little parsnip puree .....which made for an odd combination.

My seafood platter was a treat - prawns, mussels, shrimp, crayfish with lemon and bread and butter to mop up the juices. So simple but so good.

But there's no rest for the wicked, so we jumped back in the car and made our way down to Seven Sisters with nets and buckets in hand.

Unfortunately our catch was pretty limited... There wasn't much going on in the rock pools apart from an enclave of mussels tucked into a cleft between the cliffs, a few small crabs and one solitary sea snail. We declined to take them because the area was pretty dirty. A shame, but a fun day no less. Any day where I get to wear my wells and prowl around with a pink net and a big bucket is going to be pretty high up in my books!

Still, I'm not cowed - the next few weekends are going to be packed with further explorations of the seaside and hedgerow nature. Keeping a lookout for a mushroom foraging expedition in the Sussex / Kent area - if anyone knows where to find let me know!