Damson Jelly- no sugar

If you don't use this as a spread, this  slightly tangy, smooth and sweet burgundy-coloured jelly, would be a great base for a festive sauce...
Who doesn't love fruit jellies?- No, not the wobbly sort you get at childrens' parties, but the kind made of pureed and strained fruit cooked with sugar until it sets firmly then bottled in a gleaming jar. The stuff of idyllic daydreams in which I have nothing better to do all day than pick and preserve fruit and write beautiful labels, and maybe later bake a cake sandwiched together with some of that home made jam...
- But it's getting late, I still have a million chores to get through after work, and hungry mouths to feed. Nevertheless, I am determined to make my daydream at least partly a reality, so I get to work with my sturdiest saucepan after dinner. I'm going to make damson jelly; a sugar free version sweetened with agave nectar. 
Our dainty damson tree at the bottom of the garden bears delicate white blossoms in Spring and small plum-like fruits in early Autumn. In case you didn't know, damsons are small, somewhat astringent little plums, known as jambul in Asia and bitter damson in Jamaica. Their English name is said to derive from "Damascus", as the Romans are credited with having brought them to the British Isles from Syria. Whatever their history, damsons are traditionally used as preserves, and in a good year like this one they are not at all sour. The sugar free jelly I made set well and was sweet but tangy- and makes a great spread or sauce; a more British alternative to cranberry sauce at Christmas, even. Or maybe an alternative Thanksgiving condiment? Find the recipe below the pictures:

This year our little tree is bearing literally hundreds of small, sweet damsons

Resplendent in the Autumn sunshine!
1.3kg damsons (includes stones)
375ml agave nectar
3 tabs pectin
  • Wash the damsons and put them whole into a sturdy pan on a gentle heat with the lid on, and simmer until they have broken down.
  • Pass them through a fine sieve to get rid of the stones and skins, measure the resulting puree in ml and return them to the pan.
  • Now add exactly half the amount of agave nectar and bring to a rolling boil with the lid off. Be patient; the jelly will gradually reduce and sweeten up. Use the cold water test (see photo below) to determine if it has reached setting point. Stir from time to time to prevent the bottom of the pan burning.
  • When it reaches setting point, turn the heat off and stir in the pectin. I have never set jam with pectin before and it was quite magical to see it thicken before my eyes!
  • Bottle/ jar in sterilised containers and keep in the fridge. I don't know yet how long it lasts; maybe up to a couple of weeks.

When the jelly coagulates in cold water and does not mix with the water even when poured out, it has reached setting point.


  1. Beautifully simple...this would be so yumful on waffles and English muffins and ohgoodgolly vegan ice cream! Many thanks!


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