Our CSA share includes a fruit share that supplies (in addition to excellent apples, peaches and pears) harder to find fruit better suited to preserving than eating out of hand. The last two weeks this has been damson plums, which are much too tart to eat, and so we’re trying two classic preparations: damson gin and damson jam.
First up, the gin. We loved the peach and plum fruit liqueurs we made last year as Christmas gifts and we’re excited to try something new this year. After comparing a few recipes for damson gin on the web, we settled on using considerably less sugar – we’re hoping for something that we can mix into cocktails (plumgroni) rather than a syrupy liqueur, and if need be, we can always add more sugar when we bottle.
Damson Gin, 9/27/2014
- 1 ½ Gallon canning jar with metal lid
- 750 g Damson plums
- 125 g Sugar (16% of 750)
- 1 L Plymouth Gin
Sanitized the jar, lid and funnel in boiling water for 10 min. Weighed and washed the plums, picked off the stems and pricked the skins several times with a fork. Added the plums, sugar to the jar, then topped with the gin. Gave it a good shake and moved in a dark place to preserve the color. We’ll take a sample in about month, and it should be ready in three months.
A closer view of the plums. Inside those pretty blue skins is a yellow-green flesh that is very astringent.
There are two methods to burst the skins and release the juices – pricking the skins with fork (traditionally, it seems this was done with a darning needle), or freezing the plums till the skins burst, which simulates the effect of fruit left on the trees through a frost. The skins proved easy to puncture with a fork and it was only about three cups of plums for this recipe. Plus, it gave me something to do while the jar boiled.
To be honest, I’m not sure you need to try to sterilize the jar this way, rather than just giving it a good cleaning with hot soapy water and a bottle brush. The plums are never cooked and only rinsed in cold water, so they’re not sterilized, but every recipe suggested this step, so I gave it a try. This is our largest pot and the jar still couldn’t full submerge, and I resorted to rolling the jar a few time over the course of the 10 minutes to distribute the hot water evenly.
1) Plums: 750 g
2) Sugar: 125 g
At about 16% by weight of the plums, this is a lot less then many of the recipes we found online, which ranged from 25% to 100%(!) but like one recipe suggested, we can always add more when we give it a taste in a few months.
3) Gin: 1 L
Plymouth is our favorite gin, and we figured it would make our favorite damson gin.
The fit? PERFECT!
We used the metal band and lids because they form a much better seal than the white plastic storage caps.
Shake-shake-shake it like a gin jar.
Post shake and we already have some color. Our plum pricking wasn’t in vain.
Next stop, a dark cupboard, which evidently is important to keeping the color bright.
It’s only the second day and we already have such a lovely color.