Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam

Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam is the perfect bridge between summer and autumn. The last of summer’s stone fruits are infused with the warming spices of cooler days.

Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam

Plums and damsons signal the last of the summer fruits as autumn looms on the horizon and I am winding down with all my local foraging. This is when my kitchen is at its busiest. Fruits and vegetables that haven’t yet made it into cakes, crumbles or suppers are now being canned, jammed and chutnied.

I have written about our family’s love of foraging several times before in this space and we were very excited that this year Cole was able to properly join in. The blackberry picking was a little precarious for him due to the prickles on the brambles and the stinging nettles which swarm around the hedgerows to protect the berries. Apples also were somewhat fraught as both toddler and dog kept attempting to run under the treacherous apples which showered down every time Luke shook the tree to dislodge the ripe fruit at the top.

Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam

Damsons on the other hand were a little more manageable. Cole loved picking the fallen fruit and helping Mummy put them into the hefty foraging bag. I was surprised how helpful he was. Yes, so I then had to be extra careful picking through the damsons when we got back home as he wasn’t so discerning as mummy and daddy over which fruit should make the grade. But it was almost like having an extra pair of hands. Surely it’s only a matter of time before he can take the rubbish out, unload the dishwasher and do a spot of hoovering.

Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam

As a result Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam is making its debut this weekend on the market stall. I’m joining the new Stroud Green Market which is launching this Sunday and I’m really excited. Our area hasn’t had a farmers’ market before, usually we have to drive a little distance to Alexandra Palace so I’m hoping everyone in the area, like me, will be welcoming the market with open arms. I thought there was no better way to show support for this new venture than having a stall there myself. I’ll be selling my gluten-free cakes and also launching my autumn collection of preserves.

Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam

This will be the first weekend I’ve had the preserves on the stall this year so I can definitely feel the change in the season. I always mean to produce my jams, chutneys, relishes, pickles, ketchups and jellies all year round but I never quite manage to pull my act together. I even thought about discontinuing the preserves which I wrote about in an earlier post but my joy in foraging and canning got the better of me again this summer and suddenly I found I had hundreds of jars which needed shifting.

I haven’t sold my Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam since my first preserves stall three years ago. Two years ago I had just had Cole so my foraging was scant and then last year our local damson trees didn’t seem to fruit all that well. This season though the fruit was juicy and plentiful. I swear each tree bears enough fruit for every household in Stroud Green to collect a few kilos.

Damsons

Damsons are smaller cousins to the plum and there are more trees around to forage from than you would think. Just look for the squashed purple fruit underfoot around late August September and you’ll probably find you’re standing beneath a damson tree. They are easy to collect, when the fruit is ripe just a shake of a branch releases a plethora of damson raindrops which can be collected by an artfully placed upturned umbrella already positioned underneath the chosen branch. I wouldn’t recommend eating damsons straight off the tree though as they are rather sour. Like many foraged fruits once sugar is added they come to life. They are fiddly to prepare as they have stones which are too tricky to part from the flesh in their raw state so I suggest cooking the damsons down first and then sifting through the pulp to collect the stones.

Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam

Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam is one of my favourite ways to preserve them. The orange and cinnamon notes are delightful this time of year as the evenings draw in and the scent of warming spices lure you in from the chilling weather. I’m looking forward to having the jars for sale at the market stall this weekend and if you’re in the area I hope you can pop by.

Print Recipe
Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam
Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam is the perfect bridge between summer and autumn. The last of summer’s stone fruits are infused with the warming spices of cooler days.
Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
12 x 200g jars
Ingredients
  • 2 kg damsons
  • 300 g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • 600 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • teaspoons ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1,100 g granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
12 x 200g jars
Ingredients
  • 2 kg damsons
  • 300 g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • 600 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • teaspoons ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1,100 g granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam
Instructions
  1. Wash the damsons and place them into a large baking dish along with the brown sugar. Place them in an oven pre-heated to 180°C and roast for 40 minutes.
  2. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  3. Pass the damsons through a sieve into a large preserving pan. Pick through the pulp to remove all the stones, placing the stones in a large jug. Add the remaining stoneless pulp into the preserving pan.
  4. Fill the jug filled with stones with the 600ml water. Swirl around so all possible damson juice is loosened from the stones.
  5. Pour the water through a sieve into the preserving pan. Finally, discard the stones.
  6. Zest the oranges, setting aside the zest until the very end. Then juice the oranges. Add the orange juice to the preserving pan, along with all the spices.
  7. Bring to a boil and add the granulated sugar, stirring to dissolve.
  8. Once the sugar has dissolved add the lemon juice. Bring to a rolling boil.
  9. Boil the jam for about 10 minutes until the temperature reaches 104°C or passes the saucer wrinkle test*.
  10. Remove from the heat, stir in the orange zest and decant into sterilised jars*.
Recipe Notes

*The saucer wrinkle test basically requires you to put about 5 saucers in your freezer when you begin making your jam. Once you think the jam might be ready then you can double check by removing a saucer from the freezer, dropping a teaspoon of jam on it then placing the saucer in the fridge. After about 30 seconds remove the saucer and push the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles up it’s ready, if it just pools back into the space your finger has left then it needs more bubbling time. Boil it another couple of minutes then turn off the heat and then test again with another saucer.

*To sterilise the jars place the very clean jars you would like to use in an oven pre-heated to 140°C for 20 minutes. Sterilise the lids by dropping them into a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes with a splash of vinegar. I don’t sterilise my lids in the oven as they tend to ruin.

Chinese Damson Sauce

Chinese Damson Sauce
If you are looking for me lately then it’s more than likely you will find me stuck up a damson tree, waist deep in blackberry bushes or halfway down the ravine on Parkland Walk checking on the inconveniently placed crab apple tree. At the moment I’m sitting patiently waiting for the rosehips to come into their own as my empty jam jars are crying out for a bit of rosehip jelly. I might have mentioned once or twice that I’m really getting into this foraging business and it has been so surprising to me how much wonderful fruit is available to us on our urban doorstep. 

Damson Tree

When a friend told me about the damson tree on Lancaster road, which is just your regular residential North London street, I was there in a flash. By the time I arrived I was already a bit too late for some of the fruit which had fallen heedlessly from the branches to be squashed underfoot by busy pedestrians. Gah, that was at least two gallons of jam right there on the pavement.

Whilst we were shimmying up the tree trunk we were informed by a passer-by that everyday there is usually someone picking the damsons, so we are certainly not the only ones benefiting from the tree’s generosity. We’ve visited it a few times now and it could probably provide fruit for the whole of Stroud Green, there are just so many damsons. Although picking the fruit from the branches is no easy task. We had two methods, shaking the tree so all the fruit dropped below into waiting golf umbrellas and on our heads, but that wasn’t shifting the fruit at the top so my husband gallantly flew up into the tree, nifty as you like, whilst I waited below with the basket and a grumpy puppy.

Damsons

The pleasure in picking your own food is immense, despite what the puppy thinks, and I could just imagine how much fun it would be to have an allotment. That is, if I could stand the 15 year waiting list, and then if I could also rope someone else in to plant the seeds, water the soil, nurture the seedlings and tell me when it’s all ready. At that point I would be more than happy though to swoop in and claim all the glory for harvesting the produce. Anyone up for that, I might give you a pot of chutney or a few radishes for your trouble?

Chinese Damson Sauce  |  Stroud Green Larder

The funny thing is that until this year I’m not sure I had even had damsons before, except in vodka which kinda counts, no? The best way to look for damson recipes is to search under plums. Anything you can do with a plum you can do with a damson, although it would be wise to add a touch more sugar as damsons are rather tart; they are not the sort of fruit you would eat plucked straight from the tree. The other issue with damsons is their stones. They are practically impossible, as far as I can tell, to de-stone them before cooking and I’ve worked out the best way is to cook down the damsons, sieve the juice out of the way, then sift through the pulp by hand to remove each stone. It’s a bit of a labour but worthwhile if you like your damsons which I am now happy to say I certainly do.

This chinese damson sauce is an absolute winner and is of course a natural fit for duck and pancakes, but it’s more versatile than that. I am not a fan of the bottled stir-fry sauces you can get from the chinese supermarkets as the ingredients list doesn’t fill me with joy but you can happily drop a spoonful of this into any stir-fry instead of oyster sauce or black bean. It also works as a dipping sauce for wantons, sesame toasts or for grilled chicken.

I was quite reserved on the sugar in this recipe, adding only as much as I needed to remove the upfront damson tang. For someone who practically lives on cakes I don’t like anything to be overly sweet, but if you wish to add more sugar to the below recipe after tasting then go for it.

Chinese Damson Sauce  |  Stroud Green Larder

Chinese Damson Sauce
Inspired by Liana Krissoff’s Chinese Plum Sauce from Canning For A New Generation

1kg damsons
150g pitted prunes
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and diced
225g soft light brown sugar
120ml rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tsp cinnamon
1 piece star anise
¼ tsp whole black peppercorns
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp chilli flakes
¼ tsp schezuan pepper
1 tsp salt

  1. Place the damsons in a large preserving pan and cook them for about 10mins with 100ml water, until they are soft and the stones popping out.
  2. The easiest way to remove the stones is to strain the damsons, spread the pulp out on a large plate then pick through all the pulp carefully with food grade gloves to remove each stone. Place the de-stoned pulp and the damson juice back into the preserving pan.
  3. Add all the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Pour everything into a blender and blitz until smooth.
  5. Pour the sauce back into the preserving pan, taste for seasoning and bring back to a gentle boil.
  6. Remove from the heat and decant into sterilised jars.