Struggling for inspiration after a particuarly fruitful damson harvest? Look no further than Mike Robinson's damson jam recipe


Damson jam is the best way to use up these tiny sour plums. Although too bitter to eat, they make great jam. With the British weather producing some of the best damsons in the world, don’t let the bumper crop go to waste.

Damsons are high in pectin, so make sure you know how to judge pectin levels in fruit before you begin. For more on jam, read the best way to make wild fruit jam or how to make rose petal jam.

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Damsons are really versatile little blighters. Packed with pectin, they are tart enough to pucker your mouth like Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey, but capable of an amazing metamorphosis. Simply add some sugar and turn them into a wonderful damson jam. Even better, dig out that bottle of export-strength gin you were hoarding, add it to a Kilner jar half-full of pricked damsons and sugar (100g or so will do) and wait. After a month or two, pour off the juice and bottle it. It takes a real Christmas spirit to give this away, so I’ll quite understand if you bestow the jam instead.

  • 800g (17 1⁄2oz) damsons
  • 500ml (17 1⁄2fl oz) water
  • 1kg (2 1⁄5lb) sugar
  • 1 small chilli, finely chopped

To make damson jam, simmer the damsons gently in the water until the stones rise and can be skimmed off the top. Add the sugar and chilli and boil rapidly until it reaches the setting point (take the pan off the heat while you spoon a little
jam on to a cold saucer, let it cool and see whether it “sets”). If not, carry on boiling a little longer. Finally, skim
and pour into warm, dry, squeaky-clean jam jars.

And don’t forget chestnuts and those ceps you picked in this bumper year and dried on the Aga. The list of potential presents is endless.