Eat the Seasons – Damsons

Damsons are notoriously at their best in September – but I won’t be the only one that’s noticed that the seasons appear to be a little out of kilter this year with trees being full of Damsons throughout August.

For those that don’t know, Damons are similar to plums and form part of the rose family – they are a stoned fruit and aren’t usually eaten raw because they are seriously bitter!

This August is the first time I’ve experimented at all with Damsons, but with the abundance that there were in the hedgerows near my house it seemed a shame not to.

So Damson Jam and Damson Cordial it was! Originally I was going to make Damson Gin, but seemed mental to me to pick harvest the hedgerows for free and then go and spend £20.00 on a bottle of gin (I’ll save that for the sloes later on!), so settled for cordial.

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The Damson Jam was a doddle to make – other than boiling the fruit and picking the stones out one by one, and the cordial was an overnight jobby – recipe courtesy of ‘Preserves’ by Pam ‘The Jam’ Corbin – part of the River Cottage Handbook range.

They look great – yet to report on flavour!

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Really Easy Blackberry Jam!

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Whilst you can, get out and pick some blackberries they’re free and make a seriously tasty jam! Perfect for jam tarts or on your toast – or better still warm homemade scones, Don’t worry about jam pans or jam/confectionery thermometers (although admittedly I do own both!) – a large heavy based pan and an ounce of common sense will do just fine!

  • 800g washed blackberries (if you haven’t quite got enough add some strawberries to the mix to take it up to the full weight!!)
  • 1kg Jam Sugar
  • Knob of Butter

Method

  1. Place the blackberries in a large saucepan and heat gently until the fruit softens. Add the jam sugar and heat gently, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves. Do not allow to boil a and don’t stop stirring!!
  2. Add the knob of butter, this helps to prevent any scum forming in the jam. Keep stirring, increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil, one that bubbles vigorously, rises in the pan and cannot be stirred down. As soon as this stage is reached, start timing.
  3. Boil for 4 minutes (no more no less!). Remove from the heat. Pour in to your sterilised jam jars immediately and screw on the lids. It’s super-hot so take care, I’d recommend using a funnel and ladle for ease.

Top Tip! To sterilise your jars ensure they have been thoroughly washed, cleaned and dried, then pop them on a baking sheet in an oven preheated to 170 degrees for 10 minutes!

From Pheasants to Giraffes…

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So from Monday 18th August, I started on my journey as a Social Mediator at Green Umbrella – a fun yet professional Social Media and Online Marketing agency.

It was a tough decision to leave my position as Marketing Manager at William Powell, not only because it was in an industry I’m incredibly passionate about (Fieldsports and The Countryside), but also because when you work for a considerable length of time for a family run business, you become, in a sense part of the family – but life (much like a Woodcock or Grouse) can dart about in different directions from time to time – and for now it’s time to try something new.

The fit is perfect, having now studied and worked in Marketing for nearly 10 years, it’s clear that while print media isn’t dead, for a business to succeed in today’s current climate, digital marketing and social media really does need to form part of an overall marketing strategy – and I love digital marketing!

Under the watchful eye of Julia Doherty founder of Green Umbrella I’ll be acting as Social Mediator for several clients across varying industries, and in addition doing some blog writing (big WordPress fan) and some coaching too (this is where the infamous Green Umbrella giraffe comes in to action, if you’re curious why not enquire about some coaching!).

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Giraffe Photographed by Peter Miller

Pheasant Photographed by Robert Pittman