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.

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.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: British
Servings: 144 servings
Calories: 15

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

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  • 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.
  • Fill the jug filled with stones with the 600ml water. Swirl around so all possible damson juice is loosened from the stones.
  • Pour the water through a sieve into the preserving pan. Finally, discard the stones.
  • 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.
  • Bring to a boil and add the granulated sugar, stirring to dissolve.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved add the lemon juice. Bring to a rolling boil.
  • Boil the jam for about 10 minutes until the temperature reaches 104°C or passes the saucer wrinkle test*.
  • Remove from the heat, stir in the orange zest and decant into sterilised jars*.

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.
Yield 12 200g jars

Nutrition

Calories: 15kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Potassium: 27mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 50IU | Vitamin C: 2.3mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Chinese Damson Sauce

This Chinese Damson Sauce is a natural substitute for your regular Hoisin sauce. Except this version is more fruity, layered with spices and completely gluten-free.

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 in North London. 

Damson Tree

When a friend told me about the local damson tree a few roads down, 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 North London, there are just so many damsons.

What are damsons?

Damsons are small purple stone fruits, very similar to plums. Their season is short and you can usually find them appearing in the late summer. They are rarely sold in supermarkets so your best bet is farmers’ markets or foraging for them yourself. Once you start noticing them you’ll soon find damson trees can grow pretty much anywhere in the UK.

How do you pick damsons?

Picking damsons from tree branches is no easy task. If you don’t fancy shimmying up the branches then lay a big groundsheet underneath the tree and give the branches a good shake. You can then collect the ripe fruit straight from the sheet. Your stash will build up very quickly.

Damsons

Damson Recipes

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 before cooking and 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.

Want another damson recipe? What about this Damson Orange Cinnamon Jam?

Chinese Damson Sauce | Stroud Green Larder

How to make Chinese Damson Sauce

  1. Cook the damsons in a splash of water until they have broken down. Remove from the heat, sift through and remove the stones.
  2. Add the damsons, along with the rest of the ingredients, into a large preserving pan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour everything into a blender and whizz up until very smooth.
  4. Pour back into the preserving pan, bring back to a boil then remove from heat.
  5. Decant into sterilised jars.

How to use Chinese Damson Sauce

This Chinese Damson Sauce is an absolute winner and is of course a natural fit for serving with your crispy duck and pancakes, but it’s more versatile than that:

Swap your regular supermarket Hoisin sauce, Oyster sauce or Black Bean sauce for this Chinese Damson Sauce.

Serve with these Crispy Duck Summer Rolls

Use as a dipping sauce for wantons, sesame toasts or grilled chicken.

Tip on Sweetness

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 like your condiments a little sweeter then taste after blending and add more sugar before the final boil if needed. Make sure the sugar has dissolved before decanting.

Chinese Damson Sauce | Stroud Green Larder

If you like this Chinese Damson Sauce then try this equally amazing Blackberry Hoisin Sauce.

If you make this Chinese Damson Sauce then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Chinese Damson Sauce

A deliciously sweet sour condiment infused with spices and excellent with stir fries.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Chinese

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • Place the damsons in a large preserving pan and cook them for about 10 minutes with 100ml water, until they are soft and the stones popping out.
  • 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.
  • Add all the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Pour everything into a blender and blitz until smooth.
  • Pour the sauce back into the preserving pan, taste for seasoning and bring back to a gentle boil.
  • Remove from the heat and decant into sterilised jars.

Notes

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