Monday, 1 October 2012

Damson inspired autumn

Although I hate the thought that winter is just around the corner, I think that autumn is my favourite time of the year, the trees are full of fruit, plums, damsons, apples, blackberries, elderberries, all the fruits I love, most of them being suitable to dousing in gin and leaving on a shelf for a year or two.

The winter brings on thoughts of rich sumptous colours, scarves wrapped up to your nose, rouched socks while you're drinking a hot chocolate.

So, inspired by an afternoon damson picking, my blog today consists of a recipe for damson cheese which is much, much easier than jam (which I find just a little bit intimidating) and new damson fibres for winter spinning.

We nipped down the canal on Saturday afternoon to a damson tree that can only be reached by dinghy for our annual damson gin trip.  The fruits were a little bit down this year, it could be because of the rain or perhaps the tree was having a quiet year.

We then became completely entangled with a rope-around-the-propellor issue and we're saved by a local fisherman/bargee/good samaritan with a pen knife who led us to the most amazingly laden tree that's fruits were partly on the path and so easily accessible to anyone passing.

I couldn't leave all those damsons there without asking the owner of the tree, but she wasn't interested in them as she was painting her living room.  Well as we say in our house, you snooze you lose.

So here's the recipe for damson cheese

1)  Wash damsons well.  Cover with water and stew well
2)  Rub flesh through a sieve leaving the stones and skins behind
3)  Measure pulp. Allow 450g/1lb sugar to 450g/1lb pulp
4)  Put pulp and sugar in a pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
5)  Bring to boil and simmer gentlry until a spoon drawn across the botton of the pan will leave a
     clean line
6)  Pour cheese into prepared and sterilised jars.
7)  Cover with waxed paper discs.  Cover with a clean cloth until cool and then put on jam pot covers.
8)  Store for at least a year before eating

Or, if you're us, eat within a week or two and  give a couple of jars away.

The other half of this are the damson/aubergine inspired fibres.  I've dyed a range of fibres, from Bluefaced leicester/superwash to Merino to Bluefaced Leicester/nylon (which will be great for handspun socks) and some silk blend will be on the way too.  As usual, as I'm dyeing them I always want to spin them so we'll have to see how many of them make it to the shop.  Here they are in the pot

 and drying on the line, (there was a very confused window cleaner).

There'll be a shop update in a few days.

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