Our neighbour has a damson tree with much of the tree being in our garden.  Each year it is full of damsons but have never picked the ones our side because I don't really know what to do with them.  I do not want to make jam so is it best to freeze them and then use for crumbles etc?  if so do I need to stone them and/or cook them before freezing?image



  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,143

    They'll take up less space in the freezer if stoned and all the recipes I have for damson crumble, damson pie, damson cobbler, damson compote etc say remove the stones first.   You can find recipes on BBC Food by putting damson in the search box.

    You can also use whole ripe damsons to make damson gin which is actually nicer than sloe gin.   Same method.

    Make sure you have your neighbours' permission to pick the fruit as, technically I believe, they belong to them.

    The Vendée, France
  • Thank you for this will look for recipies on BBC Food .  No problem with neighbour as he never picks them  - says he can't be bothered.  That's why I thought I'd use them this year as they are always just left to  fall and it is such as waste.

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,805

    Damson Chutney is dather nice too.

  • Thank you, have been looking at recipies so will be picking later today!

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    How can you do Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy if you remove the stones first?

    In your haste to freeze them do not forget to eat them fresh.  Raw if they are ripe.

    Damson gin, crumbles, pies, with custard, chutney, jam, jelly.  Making my mouth water!

    Have a word with your neighbour and if he says 'Go ahead' give him a jar.

    By the way, you will find it very hard to stone them before cooking them.  The stones usually rise to the surface when you add the sugar if you are making jam or jelly.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,740
    A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in - Greek proverb 
  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,805

    Ours are no where near ready for picking. Normally ours would be ready the first week in Spetember at the earliest.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,143

    My poor damson got frosted at blossom time so we have about a dozen meagre fruits.  I've now given the tree a good prune with a view to training it espalier fashion if I can and maybe putting fleece over it at night next spring.

    The Vendée, France
  • Reading your replies I am now wondering if they are actually damsons.  I have just picked them (August 10th) they are small, deep purple and very soft.  I have tasted a couple and they are quite sweet but the skins are a bit sharp.  They are definately suitable for eating raw - does this sound like they are damsons or are the plums??

  • Damson gin is delicious, and doesn't taste like gin at all.  I have some still from last year, and it is lovely as a liqueur or with soda water (or lemonade if you prefer something sweet) and lots of ice - very refreshing in hot weather!

    If the fruit that you have tasted is sweet, then I doubt that they are damsons which are quite unplatable raw.  Perhaps they are a variety of a small plum - but could still be treated in the same way.  If the fruit is soft, btw, it would be easy to remove the stones using a cherry stoner. 

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,805

    Even our plums are not ready until the beginning of September. I suppose it depends on where you are, in warmer climes they may well be ready sooner.

  • It's strange because I live in North Lincolnshire where the wind cuts across from the sea.  Our own plum tree got attacked by aphids this year so we had no fruit from it so having these plums is a bonus.

  • Make the most of the bonus crop.  Chutney, jam, pies etc would be lovely.  (But the gin is better image hic!)


  • Having broken a tooth on a stone in someone's damson jam, I can say that the joy of harvesting from the hedgerows was severely diminished! Please do take care.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,740
    Shrinking Violet wrote (see)

    If the fruit that you have tasted is sweet, then I doubt that they are damsons which are quite unplatable raw. 

    There are 'dessert' damsons, one such variety is called 'Blue Violet'image


    A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in - Greek proverb 
  • Well - it's good to learn something new every day!  I had always been led to believe that damsons were not sweet when eaten raw, and had to be cooked/processed to be palatable!  The only ones I've ever come across met this description - but I suppose I ought to have known that my near-namesake was sweet image

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,805

    Well our Damsons are probably Shropshire whatever and grow wild in the hedgerows. When fully ripe they are very palatable.

    The only fruit this year on any of the Plum/Damson/Greengage trees in our garden are still green. The earliest ones to be ready are some wild 'Bullace' type ones down the lane and they are just light puple.

  • We ate some of them today and they were very sweet, they are very small and purple and absolutely deliciousimage

  • Shrinking Violet, how do you make Damson Gin? We have some damsons still in the freezer from last year - we got them from a Freecycler. We've made some jam from them (very successfully) and I'd love to make damson gin as well! Any recipe?

  • Wisehedgecrone - exact quantities are not strictly necessary, but the principle is 1lb damsons (or sloes), 6 oz sugar and enough gin to top up and cover the fruit.  (cheap supermarket gin, own brand, is ideal).

    Normally you would prick the skins, traditionally with a darning needle which is, tbh, arduous, but a fork with sharp tines is fine.  If, however, the fruit has been frozen, the skins may have split and this process won't be necessary.  But the puncturing of the skins allows the full flavour of the fruit to be extracted, and the colour of the skins to colour the gin.

    Put the prepared fruit and the sugar in a wide-necked jar and top up with gin to cover the fruit.  keep in a cool dark place, and gently shake the jar each day for a couple of weeks to ensure all the sugar is dissolved.  Leave for three months (longer if you can manage it!) and strain into clean bottles.  (I use wine vinegar bottles with the labels soaked off, of course - they're a good size and, if you're feeling generous, you can give them as Christmas presents).

    Good luck!



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