A damson competition rounds off ‘Damson Days 2014’. The competition is open to both amateur (home) cooks and professionals.
The theme is ‘anything damson‘, which means that you can enter anything from a traditional damson recipe to an avant garde damson recipe. And also, your entry could be your favourite damson jam or jelly or gin. Or vodka. Or your favourite damson chutney or curd or mincemeat. Or damson chocolate truffles; they work well too.
Damson liver parfait with damson brioche? That spectacular dish won the prize in our previous damson competition. What you enter really is down to your imagination.
What You Need to do to Take Part
Bring your damson competition entry to the Ludlow Local Produce market on Thursday, 9th October 2014 by 10am. Label your entry with:
your name and contact details
the category you are entering (amateur or pro)
the name of your dish
the ingredients in your dish
The competition entries will be judged between 10am and 12 noon. The winners of both categories will be announced, and the prizes awarded, at 12 noon.
You’d be mad not to take part because there’s no point in hiding your damson light under a bushel.
Entry is free.
Here is a summary of the key points:
the competition is open to amateur and pro cooks/chefs
the theme is ‘damson anything’, which literally means what it says
bring your entry to the Ludlow Local Produce Market on Thursday 9th of October by 10am
Damsons make a fine fruit syrup. It’s the philosopher of fruit syrups: it’s deep.
To make a damson syrup you take some damsons, extract the juice and cook that juice with sugar.
By regulating the temperature at which you cook the damson and sugar mix you can produce a thin or thick syrup. The higher the temperature, the thicker the syrup, and so the more viscous it is, obviously. And the more viscous it is, the more it will cling to, for example, vanilla or nut ice-cream, duck, venison or anything else you would like to glaze with the rich flavour of damson.
Bravo, bravo, BRAVO! The food and drink producers who won gold stars in the Guild of Fine Food Great Taste Awards 2014 have just been announced. And sweet and savoury food and drink products made with damsons have won several of these precious gold stars.
There’s an entry from Ireland, namely, WIld Food Mary’s Damson Vodka.
There’s a damson jam with the stones left in (a minimally processed jam, perhaps, and one with the hint of almond from the damson stone … I’m guessing).
There’s a ‘Damson Port Liqueur’, a new category to me that sounds deliciously rich.
There’s a damson vinegar, one of the finest fruit vinegars you can make and taste, and one that that can easily square up to the finest balsamics from Modena.
Then there’s ‘Damson Daize’, a non-alcoholic drink, now an award-winning drink, made by one of our very own Shropshire-based damsonistas, Tish Dockerty, from Appleteme. Well done, Tish! You’ve done the Shropshire Prune damson proud.
Here is a list of the damson winners, along with a link to their website (if available).
There’s a fungal disease that infects damsons that’s known by various names, including:
“bent banana disease”
Its Latin name is Taphrina pruni (“taphre” is Greek for trench or ditch).
This disease is fatal to damson fruits and so can seriously reduce your damson yield. It can be summed up in two words: grotesque deformity.
In ten years of growing damsons I’ve come across the occasional pocket plum-blighted damson. But this year, 2014, has been the worst ever.
In my patch on the Herefordshire-Shropshire border, every damson tree in my orchard and in the hedges in my meadow was infected to some extent. I estimate I’ve lost maybe as much as a fifth of my crop. That’s a lot of damsons to lose.
Where to Learn More About Pocket Plum
The web is a rich source of information on this disease. So, if you’d like to learn about the epidemiology, aetiology, symptoms and treatment of pocket plum you could always check out these sites:
Here you will find information about Damson Days 2014.
This post is updated regularly, so please check again for updates.
You can read about:
the dates for Damson Days 2014
events at the launch event at the Ludlow Local Produce Market, including the chefs’ demos and the damson competition
the catering and food retail venues that are taking part
When and Where Damson Days 2014 is Taking Place
If you’re a damson afficionado, or even if you’re not, you’ll know that damsons are a true autumn fruit.
It’s apt, therefore, to celebrate these lovely blue-black bombs of flavoursome fruits in the autumn time.
So, in Ludlow, the unofficial capital of Shropshire, we’re holding a two-week celebration of the Shropshire Prune variety of damson.
Damson Days 2014 will take place between September 25th and October 9th, the midst of damson picking season.
The Shropshire Prune, as its name suggests, has a deep historical and socio-economic resonance with Shropshire. In fact, the Shropshire Prune goes back a long, long way — most likely as far back as when the Romans ruled. We’re pretty sure that the Romans brought the damson we know as the Shropshire Prune into (what we now call) the UK.
But don’t worry if you don’t know what variety of damson you’ve got in your garden because other damson varieties are more than welcome to the party too!
Here is a notice of the damson celebration.
Information About the Launch Event
The fortnight of damson celebration kicks off at the Ludlow Local Produce Market on Thursday, 25th of September. Come along to:
get recipe ideas for what to do with your damson glut
taste damsons, if you’ve never tasted them before
watch professional chefs cook with damsons
enter your damson product(s) in a damson competition
find out more about the variety of damson you have growing in your garden
taste a range of delicious sweet, savoury and tipsy damson products from local artisan producers
find out more about the history and cultural significance of the Shropshire Prune variety of damson
learn about why the Shropshire Prune damson is the only damson in the Slow Food Ark of Taste
taste a variety of both sweet and savoury damson dishes in eating venues in and around the Ludlow area
Sweet and Savoury Damson Demonstrations, Including Damson (Sour)Doughs
Two local chefs as well as a local artisan baker will be cooking or providing sensationally delicious damson dishes at the Damson Days launch event on Thursday, 25th of September.
Chef Andy Link, Head Chef at The Riverside Inn, Aymestery, Herefordshire. Andy will be making a savoury damson dish.
Chef Nathan Eades, owner of Epi Restaurant in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. Nathan will be making a sweet damson dish.
Here is a little more information about each of these food pros to whet your appetite for damsons.
Artisan Baker Robert Swift
Robert Swift is a #realbread nut. A sixth-generation baker, Robert has a flair for incorporating local, seasonal ingredients into his breads and sweet dough products. As well as running Ludlow-based, masterclasses on bread making, Robert has written a book on bread, Born and Bread. His book comfortably straddles the “bread nerd”vs “stress-free baker” fence. It reveals the secrets of the gluten framework, and shows how to make a range of delicious sweet and savoury bread products in a down-to-earth way.
For Damson Days 2014 Robert is developing baked damson specialties including a sourdough based on fermented damsons.
Chef Andy Link
Chef Andy Link is not just Head Chef at the Riverside Inn at Aymestrey, he’s also a forager, a fruit grower and preserver, a vegetable grower and a bee keeper.
Andy won Herefordshire Young Chef of the Year 2007 and pays meticulous attention to sourcing local ingredients. For example, he uses damsons from the trees in the orchard of the Riverside Inn to make a range of damson and other fruit preserves.
Chef Nathan Eades
Previously a chef in Ludlow, Nathan Eades has opened his own restaurant, Epi, in Bromsgrove. Nathan Eades’ culinary passion can be summed up in four words: flavour, wild food, technique. Typically, Nathan will take seemingly banal, overlooked or forgotten ingredients like bronze fennel, chickweed, meadowsweet, nettles and, it has to be said, damsons, and use a touch of molecular gastronomy technique to coax out their distinctive and unique flavour. A couple of years ago Nathan, along with his colleague Chef David Jarram, made a dessert of sweet damson sushi and a raviolo of bittersweet chocolate ganache infused with Earl Grey tea.
Nathan is bringing his forager, Mike Wilkes, along for his sweet damson demo. Sweet damson treats await!
Eating Venues With Damson Dishes on the Menu and Retail Outlets Selling Damson Products During Damson Days 2014