Saturday, September 20, 2014

Damson Plums ~ jam, plum sauce, and vinaigrette

Damson plums are a beautiful fruit from a bygone era...and often hard to find in this modern age. They are a European variety of plum that originated in England and around the Black Sea.  Damson plums are small, round and dark purple with intense colour and flavour...which makes them perfect for jams, jellies and preserves.

Here in the Fraser Valley, they are ripe for the picking in September...just as summer is about over. We happen to have friends with Damson plum trees on their yard and have enjoyed many delicious gourmet treats from these wee plums in recent years.  

The downside to preserving Damsons is that most varieties are not freestone, so removing the pits can be a bit of a challenge.  The simplest way to do that is to simmer the plums and then pick out the pits by hand.  Here's how:

  • Wash and pick over the plums.
  • For every 8 cups of  plums add 3 cups water. 
  • Combine the plums and water in a large heavy-bottomed pot. 
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Allow to cool enough to handle and then fish out the pits.
*I put them through an old-fashioned food mill (the kind with the wooden pestle), and then removed the pits from the pulp left left behind with gloved hands. The pulp goes back into the plum mixture.

Damson Plum Jam:
  • 6 cups prepared plums
  • 4 cups sugar
Measure the plum puree into a large heavy-bottomed pot.  (For every cup of prepared plums, add 2/3 cup of sugar. You can cook up slightly larger or smaller batches than the one posted here.)
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
While stirring, continue to boil rapidly for 20 minutes...or until mixture coats the stirring spoon.
As the jam cooks, remove any pits you may have missed.
Remove from the heat; stir and skim for several minutes.
Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.

This makes a soft-set jam...perfect for spreading on biscuits or breads.  Damson plum jam is also a great addition to sauces and dressings.

 Plum Sauce:

  • 1 cup plum jam
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Allow to cool; store covered in the refrigerator.
*Serve with chicken or with pork.

Plum Vinaigrette Dressing: 
  • 5 tablespoons Damson plum jam
  • 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup canola or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  •   salt and freshly ground pepper  to taste
  1. In a blender, pulse the preserves, vinegar, and mustard until smooth.
  2. Slowly add the oil until smooth. 
  3. Add the onions, salt, and pepper; pulse briefly. 
  4. Refrigerate in a bottle.
This dressing goes well with a salad of mixed greens, chopped red onion, fruit (peaches or nectarines), feta cheese and toasted almonds or pecans.
* * * * * 
Those are a few of the Damson plum dishes we have enjoyed here recently.  These are not my grandma's Damson plum recipes however.  She baked Platz (coffee cake) using this delectable fruit.  It tasted great but should have come with a warning attached...beware of pits!
Have you got a Damson plum memory, recipe or story you would like to share with us?


  1. We love Damson plum jam ..and it brings back memories from my early married years. My mother-in-law had a tree and I picked them every year to can and bake with. I didn't care to eat them off the tree but they made wonderful jam. They were called Kraetle (sp??) in Low German. You are right, they are hard to get today!

  2. I've never made this nor have I ever lived where there were plum trees that I was aware of but now I want to make some too. I'll be on the look out. Thank you for the recipes.

  3. My mom used to make wareneki using Damson plums, mmm! I've also made jam. I'm familiar with the German spelling that Julie used. Thanks for the memories.

  4. Absolutely gorgeous post, Judy. I have such fond memories of Damson Plum Jam :)

    Blessings to All,
    Anna (Toronto)

  5. Growing up in Albuna,(Ontario) about 15KM's north of Leamington, ON,our family grew Damson Plums or Kraekle(sp?) as we called them in Low German. People would call my parents this time of year looking for them! I would have to help pick them (not my favourite thing to do on the farm) but the Platz and Jam my mom made were the best!

    1. They were called Kraekle in my childhood home as well! Thanks for the memories!

  6. Any phone number and address where we can buy these damson plums?

    1. Try any of the larger farm markets. Here in the Fraser Valley, they are available at Lepp Farm Market in Abbotsford and Hofstede's Country Barn in Chilliwack.

  7. I recently used the recipe for jam. Came out perfectly! We've been enjoying it on breads, mixed into plain yogurt, etc. Thanks so much!

  8. My mother used to make something called Kraekle Mous with wild Damsons. It was delicious; better than Plumi Mous. My grandmother made a molasses cookie, put a spoonful of wild Damson plum jam on each round, and folded them over and sealed the jam inside the cookie. after they had baked, she made an egg white based glaze in a large bowl. She glazed the cookies in batches, putting one batch in the bowl of glaze and use her fingers to spread the glaze over the entire cookie. Once glazed the cookies were places on the lid of one of the wicker trunks that held the families belongings on the trip from Russia to Manitoba until the glaze had dried. These cookies were a lot of work, but such a treat!