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Deep purple wonders

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08 SEPTEMBER 2009

The damson is a variety of plum known as the ‘plum of Damascus’ and was originally cultivated in this area. The Romans brought these delicious, tart fruits to England – indeed they are often found in archaeological digs in Roman camps in Britain.

Their skins were also used to manufacture a purple dye, vastly cheaper than that made from the rare murex shell used to colour the emperor’s toga.

Their flesh is yellowish green, their skin a soft purple that appears nearly powdery. They are at their best in September where they can be found growing wild aplenty.

Try stewing them to eat at breakfast, serving them with thick Greek yogurt and honey, or make them into jam. A delicious fruit cheese can be made with damsons, having that same sharp tang as quince. They are at their best though in a crumble after Sunday lunch.

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