Monday, 22 August 2011

~Damson Cheese~

I started making fruit cheeses last year; after reading lots of books on preserves and learning more about chutneys, jams, jellies and conserves. Fruit cheese is not cheese at all; it's just the name given to a firm preserve where you cook the fruit first, sieve it, then boil it with sugar.  It sets firmly and you can turn it out to serve it if you wish, and slice or cube it to serve with cheese and biscuits on a cheeseboard. There's nothing better than a pantry shelf lined with jars with jewel-coloured preserves for the depths of winter.

First of all you need your fruit, and for me it's a matter of frugal principle not to buy it. So, if like me, you've only got a limited space to grow fruit and veg and aren't self-sufficient...
  1. get out into the country lanes for elderflowers, blackberries, sloes, rosehips, crab apples etc.
  2. ask friends, family and colleagues if they have any surplus homegrown produce.  Promise them some of your jam or chutney! This year I've had gooseberries, damsons, apples and plums given to me...and I've got tomatoes and sloes coming later.
I've been making damson cheese, which is good with cheese and meat, and also plum cheese with juniper berries, which is good apparently with Brie, and I love it with duck and game too.  It's the same method for any fruit, so experiment. My favourite book is an old Marguerite Patten one from the 1960's.

Rinse the damsons, then place in a large pan with a slug of water (about 100ml) Look at the lovely colour!

...simmer away for about 20 minutes, occasionally stir to prevent burning. They turn into a mushy soup like this....
Careful because it's now very, very hot and you're going to sieve it. I use a wooden spoon to press it firmly through the sieve. The good thing is that all the stones are removed without having to fiddle about. Throw the stones and skins away. Weigh the resulting fruit pulp - for every pound of pulp you add the same weight in granulated sugar. Cook on a low heat until the sugar is dissolved, then a higher heat for approximately 30 mins until setting point is reached. Trust me, you can tell when it's done - it starts to turn gelatinous on the spoon and sides of the pan. Pour into sterilised jam jars. 1lb of pulp makes about 2 jars.

Let me know if you've any ideas on recipe combinations...maybe the addition of port for a Christmas version?


  1. I've just bought some damsons only I think I'm going to make a pie instead. Will have to have a go at make jam/cheese/chutney soon - it's something I've never tried before.

  2. It is really delicious with cheese, meat and also added to a casserole as you would with redcurrant jelly. Just going to my friend's house to pick some more - but they are destined for damson gin! Was lovely to meet you on Saturday, I am trying to have a few days without cake now!!


Please feel welcome to get in touch or leave a comment - I really appreciate it. Sally x