Damsons are a small plum-like fruit with vibrant dark blue skin, they have a strong sour flavour (although not as mouth-puckering as their cousin the sloe) and are high in sugars, making them ideal for preserving. A member of the rose family, Damson trees are to be found as commonly in wild woodland and riverbank settings as they are in orchards or cottage gardens. We love this savoury chutney, perfect with buttery cheese shortbread, and for October our hotel guests will be enjoying this nibble with a glass of fizz, as our 'Thyme Tipple' on Friday evenings.
For the Damson Chutney
- 1.5 kg damsons, pitted
- 2 large cooking apples, peeled & cored
- 3 onions, peeled and finely sliced.
- 200 ml apple cider vinegar
- 800 g soft brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp ground all spice
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 25 ml soy sauce (or tamari)
For the Cheese & Thyme Shortbread
- 300 g plain flour
- 170 g Parmesan
- 200 g butter, softened
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
- Black pepper
Oven: 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
For the chutney:
Put the damsons, onions and apples into a preserving pan and bring up to a simmer until the apple starts to break down.
- Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, then simmer on a low heat for about 2 hours. You want the fruit to have all broken down and there be no liquid left.
- Spoon in sterilized jars and if you can wait, leave for at least 2-3 months before opening.
- Should make 6 x 300ml jars.
For the shortbread:
If you have a food processor, use the grating attachment to grate the Parmesan and then swap to the normal blade.
- Add the rest of the ingredients being generous with the black pepper and pulse until the mixture has just formed a dough. Do not over work.
- Remove onto your work surface and bring together into 2 cylinders 3-4 cm in diameter.
- Wrap in foil and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. At this point the dough can be frozen or left in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- When ready to bake, pre heat your oven to 160°C and line an oven tray.
- Slice the cylinders into disks approximately 0.5-1cm thick.
- Lay out on the prepared tray and bake for 16 minutes.
- Leave to cool and crisp up.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.