Two years ago, shortly after I moved back to Kent, we were enjoying a late summer and early autumn rich with hedgerow fruit. I picked so much, it was hard to imagine that I would ever witness a more abundant season. And yet this year has surpassed even 2011. And I know it’s not just Kent – from reading Twitter and other blogs, it seems that the strange mixture of weather that we had earlier in the year has resulted in superb harvests almost countrywide.
As many fat, luscious blackberries as we’ve had this time around, it’s the plump and regal-purple damsons that I’ve particularly treasured. For me, they make arguably the best jam and ‘cheese’, as well as darn fine gin.
What I haven’t made before, though, is damson wine. For one thing, I don’t have the kit. For another, I’m not sure I have the patience to wait for it to be ready to drink! But I was lucky enough a few days ago to lay my hands on a batch of about seventy or so recipes, all dating from the 1830s to about 1900. Amongst them is a receipt (olden speak for ‘recipe’) for damson wine.
And now, of course, I’ve got the itch to try it for myself. In the meantime, I’m posting a more legible version here, in case anyone else would like to have a go. If you do, please let me know how you get on.
“To make Damson Wine
Weigh your damsons and bruise them. To every eight pounds of fruit put a gallon of water. Boil it and pour it boiling on the fruit, let it stand two days, then draw off the liquor and put two pounds and a half of sugar to every gallon of liquor. File up the vessel and let it stand until it has done working, then stop it up, let it stand twelve months then bottle it.”
Start now, and it’ll be ready in time for next Christmas…
If you’re a modern-day damson winemaker, perhaps you would care to share your recipe in the comments box below? I’m sure others would be interested. So many of us with damson gluts to make use of this year!