As promised, a feast of damson recipes for you this week to help you take advantage of the wonderful harvest happening right now on our Lake District doorsteps.
With the help of the Westmorland Damson Association - and the talents of the Gazette's graphic studio - we've put together a map detailing the farm gates throughout the Lyth and Winsters valleys from which you can buy your damsons.
You will also find the map on the Westmorland Damson Association website - www.lythdamsons.org.uk.
And now for those recipes.
Vicki Barratt's super little damson recipe book A Taste of Damsons - from jelly to gin' is available from Cowmire Hall (Crosthwaite, Kendal, LA8 8JJ) price £4.50 to include P&P.
Cheques should be made payable to Vicki who, later this year, is going to be making Christmas puddings with damsons, and damson & apple juice for sale.
She's also hoping to republish her book in the near future.
In the meantime, here are some recipes from A Taste of Damsons' to help you celebrate this delectable fruit.
Brown bread cream with damsons(Serves 4)
450mls (3/4 pint) fresh milk
1 lemon rind & juice
3 eggs separated
25g (1oz) caster sugar
15g (1/2oz) gelatine
150mls (5 fl oz) fresh whipping cream
175g (6oz) wholemeal breadcrumbs
225g (80z) damson puree
Warm the milk with lemon rind, cover to infuse.
/p> Cream the egg yolks and sugar until thick and light in colour. Pour over the milk. Return to a clean saucepan, heat stirring until thickened. Dissolve the gelatine in the lemon juice, add to the custard and leave to cool. Fold in the whipped cream, whisked egg whites and dried breadcrumbs and pour into a 900ml (1 pint) mould; chill until set. Turn out onto a plate and pour over the sauce.
Oaten damson pudding(Serves 4)
450g (1lb) damsons
litre (1 pint) milk
125g (4oz) coarse oatmeal
125g (4oz) sugar
Butter a deep pie dish. Heat the milk to boiling and pour over the oatmeal and sugar.
Leave for at least 1 hour. Stone the damsons and stir, with the beaten eggs, into the oatmeal mixture.
Bake in a pre-heated moderate oven (350F/Gas 4) for 1 hour.
Duck Breast with damsons(Serves 4)
500g duck trimmings (wings, neck, carcass)
2 carrots, peeled & coarsely sliced
2 shallots or 1 small onion, coarsely diced
1 clove of garlic, cut into 3
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
20g clarified butter
4 duck breasts, each weighing about 350g
pinch of sugar
salt & freshly ground black pepper
To prepare the sauce: Preheat the oven to Gas 7/450F/220C.
Coarsely chop the duck trimmings, put into a fireproof roasting dish in the oven for 20 mins until lightly browned.
Remove the tin from the oven, set over a moderate heat, add the diced veg, garlic, thyme and bay leaf.
Reserve 100g of the best damsons, add the remainder to the roasting dish, cook for 2 mins then add the red wine.
Turn up the heat, bring to the boil stirring briskly, scraping the base and sides of the roasting dish with a wooden spoon.
Pour in sufficient cold water to cover the bones, bring to the boil, adjust to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 mins.
Pour the stock into a large sieve set over another pan.
Return the strained stock to the heat, boil until reduced to a syrupy consistency then gradually whisk in the butter.
Taste, season and keep warm.
To cook the duck & complete the sauce: Heat the clarified butter in a frying pan over a high heat.
Fry the duck breasts, skin side down, for 3 mins, then on the other side for 5 mins (they will be very pink).
Wrap in foil and reserve to keep warm. Pour off the fat from the pan and return the pan to the heat.
Add the reserved damsons and a pinch of sugar.
Heat for a minute then sprinkle on to the surface of the warm sauce and continue to keep warm.
Slice the duck breasts very thinly, lengthways, trimming away any fatty skin.
Arrange the slices from each breast in a fanned-out rosette on 4 warmed serving plates.
Spoon some damsons into the centre of the rosette or around the sliced duck.
Coat the meat with the sauce and serve immediately.
Gillian writes: Alternatively, for those of you who want to impress in half the time cook the duck by pan-frying skin side down until crisp & brown, turn over and place in a medium hot oven for a further 10 to 15 mins and then let it rest for 5 mins before slicing.
In a small saucepan gently heat some Damson Gumbo (made by Val Harrison of Crosthwaite, on sale at Kendal Town Hall), or try Moss Howe Farm Damson Syrup (made by Annette Cook and Jane Bradley, on sale at Low Sizergh Barn) and spoon over the sliced duck to serve.
Thanks must go to renowned chef Simon Rimmer who agreed to let us publish this damson bread & butter pudding' recipe from his forthcoming new book - Rebel Cook' - which is due to be published in October (Cassell Illustrated, price £20 in hardback).
Chef-patron of Greens restaurant in Manchester, Simon's first book The Accidental Vegetarian' was published to great acclaim in 2004. He also co-presents the successful Grubs Up series for ITV1 which is why Simon and his film crew were in Kendal last Friday afternoon, filming outside Booths for a programme scheduled to go out in April next year.
Nothing like planning ahead!
This recipe should serve six, but Simon says four people might polish it off if they're feeling greedy!
Simon Rimmer's Damson Bread & Butter Pudding 200g butter
1 thin-sliced white loaf, crusts removed
at least 200g Demerara sugar
150g damsons, uncooked
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1 vanilla pod, seeds only
100g caster sugar
500mls double cream
Butter each slice of bread, then cut in half to make triangles.
Grease and sugar a 12inx8in ovenproof dish, then layer with the bread, sugar, damsons, bread, sugar, damsons etc, until everything's used up.
Finish with an extra sprinkling of sugar.
Beat the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and caster sugar in a bowl.
Heat the cream to scalding point, pour over the eggy mixture and stir, Pour over the pudding and leave to stand for 30 mins. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Place the pudding dish in a bain-marie and cook for 40 mins until the custard sets.
Serve with pouring cream.