The Damsons I picked a couple of weeks ago are now back out of the freezer and soaking delectably in their Gin bath, ready to make Damson Gin and Damson Gin Jam.
If your Damsons are freshly picked, prick each one a couple of times with a pin, (if you freeze them for about 2 weeks first you can omit this stage, just thaw them out overnight before you use them, this will weaken the skins nicely for you). Put all the ingredients into a large container, and shake or stir each day for about 2 weeks.
Leave steeping for about 4 - 6 weeks and then taste, add more sugar if you want it sweeter and leave for another week. Strain into sterilised bottles and store in a dark, cool place until you want to drink it.
The longer you leave this gorgeous mixture the stronger and better the flavour. It makes wonderful Christmas gifts and now would be the time to start making it for then, so the flavours have lots of time to mature.
Do not throw away the strained Damsons.
Use them to make Damson Gin Jam, place them in a pan with an equal amount in weight of sugar and a dash of lemon juice, boil until you reach setting point (skimming off the stones as they float to the surface) and then bottle in sterilised jars.
This is our favourite jam ever, deliciously alcohol/fruity tasting (even though most of the alcohol will have actually been cooked off in the boiling stage). Waste not want not, last year when we had the Kune Kunes they even ate the damson stones and spent the afternoon snoring away in their pig ark very happily. This year I will have to just pop them in the compost bin, so nothing is wasted.
Yesterday I made Pears in Brandy Syrup, another yummy treat for over the cold winter months.
Simply poach pears in a medium sugar solution until they are soft, and then pop into sterilised jars with a bit of the cooking liquid, then top up the jars with Brandy. Seal and leave in a dark cupboard for as long as you can bear for the flavour of the Brandy to seep into the pears. Once opened (if you don't eat them all at once) store in the fridge.
It makes a wonderful simple pudding for a dinner party with a scoop of good ice cream and a sprig of mint for decoration, or a decadent everyday pudding for me and Lovely Hubby !!