Monday, 10 September 2012

Damson Days: Damson Cheese

It happened a year ago. It is still referred to as “The Great Damson Debacle of 2011”.

Two damson based dishes that were a complete disaster. Completely unsalvageable. A chutney that could have stripped paint and in fact worked quite well as a drain cleaner and a cobbler than was time consuming to eat whilst embodied the fear of smashing a tooth. (Although the 2011 damson vodka, which had its first tasting yesterday, is pretty superb!)

This year, I bolted myself into the kitchen and had a Damson Day. Face your fears and all that. One of the first things I decided to make was cheese. Damson cheese. (Click here more info on fruit cheeses).

250ml red wine
250gr soft light brown sugar
1.5kg damson, washed thoroughly
250ml water
250gr caster sugar

1, In a large, heavy based saucepan set over a medium heat, dissolve the brown sugar into the red wine. Tip your clean damsons and 125ml water. Stir to combine. Pop on the lid and gently boil for around 30-40minuts until your damsons are soft and the stones start to come away from the flesh and skin.
2, Mash the damson with the back of a wooden spoon. Mine is now dyed a delightful shade of purple.
3, Pass ladlefuls of the cooked damsons through a colander over a large bowl and clean out the saucepan ready for the second stage of cooking. Some people pass theirs through sieves to get a really smooth cheese, I love a bit of texture though. I'd recommend doing this over a sink...

4, Scoop out all the stones and skins and put them in a separate bowl. Pour on the remaining 125ml water and stir. Pass this back through the colander and add to the rest of the damson pulp.
5, Return the strained damson pulp to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the caster sugar and stir until dissolved.
6, Next comes the labour intensive part. You need to gently boil your damson pulp until you have a thick paste that will set into cheese. This can take 40-60minutes of arm strengthening stirring. (I admit, I did set up my iPad and watched the rest of a documentary on Netflix).
7, To check when your cheese is ready, gently scrape the spoon along the bottom of the pan and it should leave a clear path behind the spoon that will be swallowed up within a couple of seconds.
8, Pour into sterilised jars or silicone moulds. I filled two Le Parfait straight sided jars up to about half way and then had some left over which I poured into silicone moulds. I left the cheese in the moulds to set before turning them out, putting them into an earthen ware shallow dish and covering with clingfilm and popped them in the fridge. Store unopened jars in a cool dark place and opened jars also in the fridge.


  1. Damson cheese sounds interesting. I've never tried or heard of damson before, so thanks for sharing this recipe. I must go damson hunting x

  2. Wow, your damson cheese looks fabulous. The individual ones have set amazingly well. Just wondering whose damson tree I can raid - hmmm!