Saturday, September 18, 2010

Damsons in distress

The cold snap has arrived and I've wheeled out the slow cooker again. Chickpeas, carrots, leeks and walnuts: a stew on day one, a vegetable accompaniment to sausages on day two and soup on day three. Nothing special but at least comfortable.

I think I've taken the last of the fruit from the garden. I've put a big bag of rowanberries in the freezer for the family jelly maker (my sister). For the most part it's been a productive year. The pear and the fig disappointed (badly-timed frosts put off the bumble bees and chalcid wasps) and the damson has underperformed again (frost and exposed site; I'll have to sort something out over the winter). So I had enough damsons to be too many for everyday use and not enough to start jam-making with. I didn't want to waste them so I had a bit of a think. In the end I decided to make a sauce, a keeper for in the fridge.
  • A dozen or so damsons
  • Some vegetable oil
  • A small red onion
  • Two or three hot green chilis (Jalapeno or, if you're up for it, the hot sweet ones that you get in Asian markets)
  • A good-sized lemon
  • Cinnamon
  • White wine vinegar
Stone and quarter the damsons. Finely chop the onion. Coarsely chop the chilis. Gently stew them in the oil with about a third of a teaspoon of cinnamon until the damsons have broken down. The skins will start to colour the pan. When it becomes a violently rose pink it's ready for the next step. Grate in as much lemon rind as you fancy then add the juice of the lemon. Let it simmer for a few minutes until it's quite thick then pour it into a sterilised jar. Deglaze the pan with a splash of wine vinegar and top the jar up with it.

It's kept a week so far. Hot and tart, it's a nice add-on to a cheese toastie.

(I'd always wondered how a Turkish restaurant I know got such an interestingly-coloured chili paste.)


Lulu LaBonne said...

Sounds and will have ago - usually whenever I get my hands on damsons they always become damson gin.

Pat said...

You are such a catch Kevin!
My friend Margaret used to give me damsons and - being lazy - I just used to make puree and have it with Greek yoghourt. Never tire of it.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Lulu: a sensible option!

Pat: and another one!

nursemyra said...

I've never had a damson :-(

Kevin said...

nursemyra: we shall have to send you a Red Cross parcel of them.

nursemyra said...

oh yes!!!