Saturday, September 20, 2014

Damson Plum ~ Jam, vinaigrette and plum sauce

Damson plums are a beautiful fruit from a bygone era...and often hard to find in this modern age. They are a European variety of plum that originated in England and around the Black Sea.  Damson plums are small, round and dark purple with intense colour and flavour...which makes them perfect for jams, jellies and preserves.

Here in the Fraser Valley, they are ripe for the picking in September...just as summer is about over. We happen to have friends with Damson plum trees on their yard and have enjoyed many delicious gourmet treats from these wee plums in recent years.  

The downside to preserving Damsons is that most varieties are not freestone, so removing the pits can be a bit of a challenge.  The simplest way to do that is to simmer the plums and then pick out the pits by hand.  Here's how:

  • Wash and pick over the plums.
  • For every 8 cups of  plums add 3 cups water. 
  • Combine the plums and water in a large heavy-bottomed pot. 
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Allow to cool enough to handle and then fish out the pits.
*I put them through an old-fashioned food mill (the kind with the wooden pestle), and then removed the pits from the pulp left left behind with gloved hands. The pulp goes back into the plum mixture.

Damson Plum Jam:
  • 6 cups prepared plums
  • 4 cups sugar
Measure the plum puree into a large heavy-bottomed pot.  (For every cup of prepared plums, add 2/3 cup of sugar. You can cook up slightly larger or smaller batches than the one posted here.)
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
While stirring, continue to boil rapidly for 20 minutes...or until mixture coats the stirring spoon.
As the jam cooks, remove any pits you may have missed.
Remove from the heat; stir and skim for several minutes.
Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.

This makes a soft-set jam...perfect for spreading on biscuits or breads.  Damson plum jam is also a great addition to sauces and dressings.

 Plum Sauce:

  • 1 cup plum jam
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Allow to cool; store covered in the refrigerator.
*Serve with chicken or with pork.

Plum Vinaigrette Dressing: 
  • 5 tablespoons Damson plum jam
  • 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup canola or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  •   salt and freshly ground pepper  to taste
  1. In a blender, pulse the preserves, vinegar, and mustard until smooth.
  2. Slowly add the oil until smooth. 
  3. Add the onions, salt, and pepper; pulse briefly. 
  4. Refrigerate in a bottle.
This dressing goes well with a salad of mixed greens, chopped red onion, fruit (peaches or nectarines), feta cheese and toasted almonds or pecans.
* * * * * 
Those are a few of the Damson plum dishes we have enjoyed here recently.  These are not my grandma's Damson plum recipes however.  She baked Platz (coffee cake) using this delectable fruit.  It tasted great but should have come with a warning attached...beware of pits!
Have you got a Damson plum memory, recipe or story you would like to share with us?