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Blue Damson Plums
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Blue Damson plums are a small variety approximately the size of a large cherry. They have thick, dark blue, bloomy skins that are rich in acrid tasting tannins. The interior has a low flesh to seed ratio, with a somewhat dry texture. The greenish-gold tinted, translucent pulp is tart and more fibrous than conventional plums found in typical grocery stores. Clearly not meant for a raw snack, these plums cook down into a rich and silky jam with hints of spice and bramble berries.
Blue Damson plums are available in the late summer and fall.
The Damson plum is an ancient variety of Prunus insititia, a species of small wild plum that is a late ripening ancestor of the larger and sweeter European and Japanese plums. The blue variety is far more common than the somewhat sweeter yellow variety. With their overtly tart flavor, they are generally used in preserves and jams rather than fresh eating. Prior to modern day chemical pigments, the Blue Damson was used to create a deep blue dye for military uniforms, carpet and even pottery. The name Damson is derived from the Syrian city of Damascus, where it is believed to have originated.
Plums are a good source of vitamins C and K, copper, iron and potassium. The extra thick and tannic skin of the Blue Damson plum provides an added source of anthocyanins, polyphenols and fiber.
While the Blue Damson plum is perfectly edible in its raw state, it is most palatable when cooked and sweetened. A traditional Damson plum jam recipe requires a considerable amount of sugar, almost equal parts sugar to fruit. Some recipes suggest that bay leaf is the perfect pairing to Damson plum jam and that one or two leaves should be added to the fruit as it boils down. Another way to preserve Damson plums is to cook them down even further into a thick paste similar in style and texture to quince paste. The mixture is often paired with cheese and can even be molded into intricate shapes and aged for up to five years.
The Damson plum is closely linked to the culture of food preservation, and is specifically mentioned throughout Classical British literature. It is a made into a special childhood treat for the main character in the series “Anne of Green Gables” in ‘Marilla’s Blue Plum Preserve of Avonlea’.
The Damson plum is native to the Middle East, specifically modern day Syria where it was originally referred to as “damas cene”, a derivation of the city of Damascus. With the spread of the Roman empire, trade routes eventually connected much of the ancient world, spanning from the Mediterranean in the south to the most northern reaches of Europe. Historical records show evidence of the Damson plum in Britain dating back to early Roman and Norman territories as well as in castles of the late Iron Age. Today it remains widely grown throughout the United Kingdom and in a few select orchards in Southern California.
Recipes that include Blue Damson Plums. One is easiest, three is harder.
|36 eggs||Marilla’s Blue Plum Preserve of Avonlea|
|Delicious Magazine||Damson and Apple Cheese|