Damsons are a small oval-shaped variety of plum with dark blue or purple skin and yellow flesh. The taste is usually quite sour, so they are best when cooked, which brings out their deep tangy flavour. You will find them in shops from the end of August to the end of October.


The fruits' high pectin content makes them extremely good for jellies, jams and fruit cheese; they are also used to make chutneys and a variation of sloe gin. However, damsons are not just for preserving. They can be stewed to make compotes, or pie and crumble fillings. (If you find the taste of damsons is too strong, combine them with apples or blackberries.)

Damsons produce wonderful ice cream when puréed and churned with an equal volume of crème fraiche or mascarpone. Alternatively, make a sweet-sour damson sauce with sherry, sugar, and fresh spices such as root ginger to serve with fatty meats such as duck, lamb or pork.


Cultivated damsons are sweeter and more versatile than the smaller wild damsons you may find growing in some hedgerows. Cumbria's Lyth Valley is particularly renowned for its damsons. Varieties are rarely specified in greengrocers, however there are ten listed in the National Fruit Collection, including Farleigh and Bradley's King, Blue Violet and Merryweather.