Damsons To Dye For

IMG_0379

What a difference a week makes.  We went back to the orchard on the Shropshire/Herefordshire border [see Damson Surprise] and the damsons had ripened nicely and were now perfect for picking.  We filled another crate which we took to the Houghton Project where the damsons were washed and frozen ready for jam-making.

IMG_0403

Walking round the orchard we were intrigued as to why the owner had planted so many damson trees.  We counted over a dozen. Damsons have always been a popular culinary fruit and in the past had been much in demand by the jam industry in that area, but perhaps a clue lies with another of their qualities.   Continue reading

Damson Surprise

IMG_0364

For the hedgerow forager finding a damson tree dripping with ripe fruit is like winning the lottery.  A close cousin of the more domesticated plum, the inky blue fruits of the damson often grow so profusely that the tree’s branches hang low with the weight. Much smaller in size than the average plum, damsons are fiddly to stone but they reward with a deep intense flavour when cooked: the reason they are so loved by jam makers. There are a few remaining commercial orchards in the UK, but today damson trees are mainly found in people’s back gardens or wild in hedgerows and woodlands.

So imagine our delight when we were contacted out of the blue and offered the opportunity to pick damsons from an orchard on the border of Herefordshire and Shropshire. Continue reading