PRUNES OF DAMASCUS and jam making

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I decided to make some Damson, Plum, and Apple jam today.  It’s the first time that I use Damsons, bought them at a market a few days ago.  I ate some of them and quite liked their astringent taste.  The Damson is actually a small plum, it’s from the plum family and it has been used for centuries in parts of Europe and the Middle East.  One story goes that they were very popular grown around the city of Damascus and that is where their name derives from.  Prunes of Damascus.  They were apparently introduced into Great Britain by the Romans.  It is a fruit that I never see in the super markets here in West Cork, and have not seen so far at the farmers markets either, so I was happy to find them the other day as quite rare.

Lately I have been discovering something precious, like my grandmother and mother used to do, it is taking time, while sitting down, to get peas out of their peels, or stoning small fruits, or cutting up runner beans etc…. I find it very meditative work, it takes me back through the generations of women who would actually do this daily, drying herbs, foraging for wild foods that take much longer to prepare etc..  There was a time, many years, while working in the library, when I used to think that life is too short to be busy shelling peas ~ now I am discovering the benefit it can bring to mind and body.  Besides, food prepared with love and attention is supposed to be better for the digestion.

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