Astringent tasting damsons make superb, intensely flavoured fruit cheese that mellows and improves with age. This recipe can be used for any type of damson. The photo opposite shows strips of fruit cheese made with traditional purple-coloured damsons, white (green) damsons and pink crab apple cheese - see apple cheese recipe in Cook Now index. All fruit cheeses will keep indefinitely and were traditionally served in the depths of winter with nuts and other sweetmeats such as gilded marzipan at the end of the meal. They were cut into pretty shapes and arranged with different coloured cheeses as part of the dessert which is traditionally served at the end of a banquet.
It doesn’t matter what weight of fruit you have, just wash thoroughly under the cold tap and discard any leaves or rotten fruit. Place in a large saucepan with a splash of cold water. Cover and set over a low heat. Simmer gently for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally until meltingly soft, then push through a sieve. Discard the debris of stones and stalks left in the sieve.
Clean your cheese container: either in the dishwasher then leave to steam dry, or by washing thoroughly in soapy water, then rinsing in very hot water and drying with kitchen paper. I use small rectangle plastic boxes with lids - ex-Indian takeaway! Once dry, very lightly oil with sunflower oil. This enables you turn out the cheese, if wished.
Measure the damson puree and allow 70g sugar for every 100ml puree. Place in a non-corrosive saucepan and set over a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat and stir regularly until the puree thickens and holds a trail.
Immediately pour into the sterilised container. Seal once cold.