Damsons are to plums what port is to red wine, richer, darker, stronger – and
not for everyone. Sometimes, even for me, they can be just too strongly
flavoured, almost headache-inducingly intense. Temper the powerful
plumminess by mixing them in a pud, with generous amounts of crumble, or use
them to stud a clafoutis or cut the sweetness of ice cream. The purée – what
restaurants used to call a coulis, until (alleluia) English terms such as
sauce came back into fashion – is gorgeous with hazelnut cake or meringues.
Preparing them is, I admit, a bit of a faff. They are small, so stoning them
is more work per pound than with larger plums. As with all stone fruit, when
halving them find the crease in the skin and cut between the cheeks and all
around, then twist apart. This way the stone will be lying flat in one half,
easier to lever out. With damsons, however, finding the crease can be
Then the fruit are what horticulturalists call “clingstone” – the flesh
adheres bullishly, so you will lose some when extracting the pit. A small,
sharp knife will help slice it out.