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
Although it’s nearly the end of the first week of October, there are still plenty of damsons on the trees.
In this short video I pick a few damsons from one of the internal hedges on my patch of garden on the Herefordshire-Shropshire border.
There’s a myth that damsons are nothing but bitter/sharp/sour. Which feeds into another myth that you can’t eat damsons straight off the tree. It’s not true! I wonder if people who think this are confusing damsons with their relatives, the bullaces.
While damsons do add a dimension of tartness, which is an essential counterpoint to dishes based on rich ingredients like game birds, lamb and cheeses, damsons also have a very pleasing sweetness.