Living in Wales, we can enjoy a large number of locally made cheeses. Our current favourites are Perl Wen (‘white perl’), a creamy Brie-like cheese, Perl Las (‘blue pearl’), a Stilton-like blue, and Snowdon Black Bomber, a mature Cheddar with a surprisingly smooth flavour. All are lovely in their own right but all are made even more delicious when they’re served together on a platter with a homemade chutney or fruit cheese and some crusty bread.
We’ve had a bumper crop of damsons this year, so it seems fitting that we turn some of them into this delicious damson cheese. The result is very firm - much more so than a jam - and can almost be sliced. It can be eaten immediately but tastes even better after it’s matured for a couple of months, making it ideal for eating at Christmas.
1. Sterilize your jars. Place the empty, clean jars on a baking sheet or roasting tin. Carefully place in a hot oven (130°C OR 275°F) for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes, turn the oven off and leave them to cool slightly.
2. Halve and stone the damsons. Place in a large saucepan with the water and lemon juice. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes until soft and pulpy.
3. Press the hot pulp (be careful!) through a sieve into a bowl, leaving the skin behind. Measure the quantity and add 75g of sugar for every 100ml of fruit.
4. Bring to the boil slowly in a saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the butter and boil for ten minutes.
5. Test by drawing a wooden spoon through the mixture. It’s ready when a clean line can briefly be seen on the base of the pan.
6. Pour into the still warm jars and put the lid on, tightening firmly. As it cools, the metal lid should pop down; any that don’t should be kept in the fridge and used first as they haven’t sealed properly. The rest of the jars will keep for at least a year in a cool, dark place.
Try stirring a spoonful of damson cheese through homemade gravy to make a wonderful fruity gravy that’s ideal for serving with turkey, lamb or venison.
Damson cheese also makes an interesting alternative to redcurrant jelly or cranberry sauce with your Sunday roast.
For more great ways to preserve your fruit and vegetables, see our Preserves, Sauces & Condiments recipe collection.