Damson Cheong

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1 hour after layering the fruit.

It’s a bumper year for damsons. Dad and I picked all the fruit from the two trees in my parents’ front garden, and even after sharing plenty with three sets of their neighbours, I came back home with a box weighing 13kg. I managed to shift 4kg of damsons by dividing them into 1kg paper bags and leaving them as an offering in the communal entryway to our building, and Ed has taken another kilo to offer to his running coach, but I’ve been trying to think of new ways – not just jam – to use a glut of damsons.

Ed doesn’t really eat jam, as he doesn’t have a sweet tooth. I don’t have space for a stash of jam jars in the kitchen, either. I’ve settled on cutting, stoning and freezing as many as I have space for and they can be used in baking crumbles and pies during the autumn and winter months.

These two jars are an experiment in making ‘cheong‘, which is a fermented fruit syrup. It’s popular in Korean cuisine, and can be made with any fruit. It’s typically made with green plums known as ‘maesil’ in South Korea and ‘ume’ in Japan, but I am giving damson cheong a go. You bury the fruit in the same weight of sugar, and leave it to ferment for 100 days. It can then be used as a base for teas, for cold drinks, as a syrup in baking, and as a flavour enhancer in sauces and savoury cooking.

24 hours after layering the fruit.

Update | 15th September 2022

I noticed earlier this week that the fruit which was above the syrup was starting to go mouldy. As I don’t have pickling weights and the sugar had all dissolved, I decided to skim the mould off (it was only a very small amount) and strain the syrup into a bottle. I then placed the strained damsons into a tub and put them in the freezer so that I can make a crumble or pie with them at some point.

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