Damson chilli Jam

Worth a try: • Damson chilli jam that uses the tail-end of the crop.

I mentioned that I’d made up this recipe a few weeks ago – using all those tiny and unripe damsons that aren’t worth much other effort.  It has been popular here:

2lb 4 oz small unripe damsons – stones in.

2 thumbs ginger – keep them small thumbs to avoid overwhelming the fruit.

2 chillies de-seeded

3 cloves garlic

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

12 oz sugar (with 8 oz it was still pretty tart).

Quarter pint cider vinegar

Just cover the   damsons with water and poach until soft and can remove stones when cooled – might need to put through a sieve.  If removing the stones by hand, it’s worth counting the damsons in to the pot and the stones out!

Finely grate/chop ginger, garlic and chilli – could do in a food processor.

Add all remaining ingredients except sugar to pan and return fruit pulp.

Bring to simmer, add sugar and cook until done then pot in to warmed and sterilised jars.

Good with cold meats, ham, cheese etc.  I’m going to use the riper ones to make damson gin!

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Glut of apples.

Do you know? • What to do with a glut of apples?

A deluge of apples is falling in the garden – the trees are well over 100 years old.  We haven’t got round to picking them all yet but are trying to use the windfalls first: despite being battered, it seems just too wasteful to toss them in the compost.  The longest bit of this recipe is peeling and chopping the apples to get all those odd bits that are worth using.  I also managed to get hold of pullet eggs (much smaller than the usual eggs that the hens will go on to lay).  This mix uses extra flour to offset the moisture released from the apples – and you could add a further tsp or so of baking powder if you like).

140709 - Apple tree

225 gm butter

280 gm sugar

8 pullet eggs (or 4 large)

2 generous tsp vanilla extract

350 gm self-raising flour (or plain with some baking powder)

450 gm peeled apples – chopped in to about 1 cm cubes

Process the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs and vanilla extract slowly until a very light airy mix.  Pulse in the flour.  Gently fold in the apple.  Spoon in to about 2 inch muffin-type tins – I made about 24 individual little cakes.  Bake 20 minutes Gas 6.  Sprinkle on some extra sugar before or after cooking if the waistline permits!  You could add some ground cinnamon (a tsp or so) with the flour but I found that the delicate apple flavour became a bit blunted.

I am also extracting pasteurised apple juice from the peelings and other windfalls to make apple juice with a rather esoteric Scandinavian steamer pan.  A stack of tartes Tatin has gone in to the freezer.  I’m planning to dry apple slices in the dehydrator but think I’ll skip pressing juice for cider this year.

Damsons are destined for months soaking in gin or brandy to make liqueurs while all the small, less ripe ones have already been transformed in to a very good savoury chilli and ginger jam – delicious!