1. This is going to be in the same vein as my rhubarb & ginger jam recipe, so if you’re looking to make actual jam using these instructions, please note that at this point I shall say PLEASE DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME. Or if you do, and it all goes pear-shaped, PLEASE DON’t COMPLAIN TO ME. You’ve been warned.
2. Realise that there are still viable damsons on your 2 over-producing damson trees which last year produced 12 damsons between them, and this year are producing so many damsons that even after you’ve had 2 goes at them,and your mother has had at least one go at them, still you can’t tell where either of us have been. This doesn’t include the many branches that are too high up to reach, or hanging over the overgrown path/temporary woodpile.
3. Set the children (aged 6&3 days and 3&359days) up in the kitchen to do painting, as apparently this is the absolutely-we-have-to-do-this activity of choice for this evening. Hope that the damson-picking doesn’t last longer than the enthusiasm for painting.
4. Pick damsons. This includes much poking in the eye with dead sticks as apparently near ground level damsons only grow on the underside of branches where there is a good protective covering of dead branches. Console self that all this bit will be chopped off after the fruit is gone to stop the tree breaking itself in half next year (or the year after, given the current growth pattern). The second technique of note is to bend down one branch in a classic cartoon-style, relying on my excess weight to stop me being catapulted over the A59 in ruish hour traffic. This gamble appears to pay off – it was a pretty well-laden branch, but apparently I’m heavy enough. Who knew?
5. The painting ceases to hold full attention, and the children join me in the garden. This means that after 5 minutes, Lily is stuck on the horizontal bit – apparently it looks higher up from up there, and Joel’s finger has been scraped where Lily used it as part of her climbing up the scratchy tree technique.
6. Rinse damsons by immersing in water & rescue various animals that are flushed out by same. Just the one spider this time, but it’s a persistent little bugger. I have to show it the plughole several times before it gets the message.
7. Put roughly 4 lb of damsons into Steve’s beer pan & put on a medium ring on the hob.
8. Put the TV on for injured and freaked out children. Scooby Doo 2 is well known for its calming effects.
9. Realise you need to turn the gas down when you hear loud hissing of about-to-explode damsons from the kitchen. Use potato mashing device to speed up disintegration process.
10. Leave damsons to stew while Life Goes On.
11. Run a bath for the kids. Put them in it. Take them out of it. Welcome husband home from work.
12. Leave damsons to stew while you both put the kids to bed.
13. Scrape slightly stuck damsons off bottom of beer pan and lob in 1kg sugar.
14. Start gracefully and easily spooning damson stones from the surface of the jam, where they have easily floated to. Do not use a slotted spoon and bowl and wooden spoon whereby you have to separate out molecule by molecule the stones from the jam and then tip into a bowl by the side of the hob, dripping jam down the gap between the cooker and the work surface. It’s also important not to react when your husband comes along and suggests using a sieve suspended over the jam pan, which is better on so many levels it makes you feel irrationally hormonal. Again.
15. Make dinner while husband continues to separate stones from jam.
16. Watch jude-at-home-in-the-evening montage in your head to indicate the passing of some considerable length of time.
17. Consider that life is too short, and enough stones have been removed. Heat up the jars & spoon the jam into the jars.
18. Leave to cool.
19. Check viscosity.
21. Put the rest of the damsons you picked into a plastic bag to give to your mother in law who was the one who made spooning damson stones off the top of boiling jam sound like a walk in the park.