Rise and shine: Skye Gyngell's delicious damson recipes

Damsons can be too tart when eaten raw – but use them in puddings, jams and ice-creams and they are a sweet and sour delight, says Skye Gyngell

Damsons are a very particular little fruit – small and oval in shape with a slight point at one end and a colour that is somewhere between indigo and black with the prettiest soft, smoky bloom.

Originally from Syria, they were first brought to England by the Romans, and although they used to be found only in the wild among the hedgerows, they are now commercially grown and therefore more readily available to all.

The sweet-sour green flesh of the damson is not always palatable raw and therefore is better poached in sugar – they will still have a sharp tartness about them, but it is made all the more delicious when softened by the sweetness.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Steamed pudding with damsons

This warm light pudding is very definitely comfort food!

Serves 4

300g/10oz damsons, rinsed under cool running water
150g/5oz caster sugar
Enough water to just cover the fruit

Place the damsons, water and sugar into a heavy-based, non-reactive pan. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring from time to time, for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the stove and pass through a colander, pressing down with a ladle to ensure that as much liquid as possible comes through. Allow to cool to room temperature.

For the puddings

100g/31/2oz unsalted butter at room temperature, plus a little extra for greasing the moulds
100g/31/2oz caster sugar
2 organic free-range eggs
100g/31/2oz self-raising flour
Finely grated zest of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Butter four dariole moulds or small individual pudding basins. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift in the flour from a good height and fold in gently. Finally, stir in the zest. Place a generous spoonful of damson into the base of each mould and spoon the batter over the top. Cover each mould loosely with buttered foil and bake on the middle shelf for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before inverting on to a warm plate. Serve with a dollop of cream or custard.

Damson jelly

Damson jelly can be eaten on toast, or added to a pan when you are deglazing the base of a roasting tin to make a sauce that can be spooned over roasted chicken or lamb. It is also good served alongside a strong hard cheese such as Montgomery's cheddar or aged Parmesan. Simple and quick to make, it will keep well in a sealed jar in the fridge for several months.

Makes enough for 4-5 small jam jars

2.5kg/51/2lb damsons
1 sharp crisp apple, such as Cox's
The juice of one lemon
750g/11/2lb caster sugar

Rinse the damsons, discarding any bruised or blemished fruit as you do so. Peel, core and chop the apple. Place the damsons in a large heavy-based non-reactive pan. Pour over enough water to give a 1cm depth but no more and bring to a simmer. Cook gently over a medium heat for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Tip the contents of the pan into a muslin-lined large sieve; this helps to obtain the clearest jelly. Let the juice slip through gently on its own – it may need to be left overnight in order to do so. Return the juice to the pan along with the lemon juice and sugar. Now boil steadily without stirring for eight to 10 minutes. As the jelly reduces, skim any scum off the surface. To test whether the jelly is set, place a spoonful on to a chilled plate – it should be the consistency of a thick syrup.

Ladle the hot jelly into sterilised jars (a hot dishwasher cycle and a quick drying blast in the oven will do the trick) and allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge or a cool dark place.

Damson ice-cream

Made with a simple custard base, this is a wonderfully coloured and sharp autumn ice-cream. It is best to use an ice-cream maker, but if you don't have one, simply place in a container in the freezer, stirring from time to time to prevent icicle particles from forming.

For the damsons, use the same quantities/method as for the steamed pudding recipe.

Serves 10

450ml/16fl oz double cream
350ml/12fl oz whole milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
120g/4fl oz caster sugar
6 organic free-range egg yolks

Place the cream, milk and vanilla pod into a heavy-based pan and place over a gentle heat. Cook for five minutes then remove from the heat and set aside for 20 minutes, allowing the vanilla to infuse the milk.

Place the sugar and yolks into a bowl and, using a whisk, beat until the yolks are pale and thick. Pour the still-warm milk over the yolk-and-sugar mixture, stirring as you do so. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over the lowest heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir the custard continuously using a figure-of-eight motion until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. This will take a little time, so you need to be patient.

Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl immediately and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the damson syrup and place into an ice-cream maker, then follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

    Sports coaching volunteer jobs

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...

    Turtle Nesting and Coral Reef Conservation in Borneo

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...

    Elephant research project in Namibia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...

    Day In a Page

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit