Damson Day – Heralding the arrival of spring!

This weekend (Saturday 12th April 2014) the Lake District will be celebrating everything Damson at the Damson Day Country Fair, Low Farm in the Lyth Valley.

A celebration to herald the arrival of spring in Westmorland and the damson blossom

A celebration to herald the arrival of spring in Westmorland and the damson blossom

To celebrate Damson Day on 12th April 2014, The Wild Boar are offering a complimentary serving of our immensely popular smoked damson sauce with your steak (Just mention Damson Day). Chef has also included a mouth watering Apple and Damson Crumble on the menu, so come and celebrate Damson Day and herald in a Westmorland Spring.

Ten things you may, or may not, know about damsons…

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1. Damsons named after Damascus

The damson tree takes its name from the city of Damascus in Syria from where it spread to ancient Rome. The Romans subsequently introduced the tree to Great Britain. British colonists in turn took it to America.

2. 4000 Year-old damson stones

Damson stones were found in a bag round the waist of a 4000 year-old ‘Ice Man’ uncovered recently in the Alps

3. Damson Purple

In ancient Rome Purple was the colour worn by the Emperors. Damsons were used as dyes to create these royal robes. Since that time, purple has been commonly associated with royalty and piety.

4. Damson dye

Before the introduction of artificial dyes, damsons were in great demand by the textile industry and used to create more colours than the obvious purple. The colour altered according to which fixing agent (mordant) was used. For example, ammonia turned the cloth green. Army uniforms in the First World War were dyed khaki with damsons. In her book The Morville Hours : the story of a garden, Katherine Swift describes how she developed a garden at The Dower House, Morville, Shropshire. She writes how “soldiers marched off to Gallipoli and The Somme with the khaki of Shropshire damsons on their backs”

5. A national drink

Damsons are the main ingredient of slivovitz (or slijvovica) which is the national drink of Serbia.

6. Damson Pop!

The Damsons were a 5-piece soulful funky pop mash-up, based in Cambridge – but more than that I cannot find!? If you’ve heard them, let us know!

7. Kate’s Damson Jam

In August 2010 supermodel Kate Moss was widely reported to be about to launch her own range of damson jam – ‘Kate’s Damson Jam’. The catwalk beauty had found hoards of damsons on her Cotswold estate near in Gloucestershire. After perfecting her recipe she sent samples to her celebrity pals, including Simon Cowell, and has taken cooking lessons from Jamie Oliver and marketing advice to launch her brand from billionaire Sir Philip Green. Very little has been heard about this project since, though……

8.Perfect with bubbly

Dam-Chame is the name for the cocktail of damson gin mixed with bubbly

9. An odd way to produce damson gin

  1. Buy a large marrow and remove the top, scoop out the insides.
  2. Wash and score the damsons, then stuff then into the marrow.
  3. Place the marrow into a pair of old tights or stockings.
  4. Hang the marrow and place a receptacle underneath.
  5. Fill the marrow with gin and leave to marinade for couple of days.
  6. Make a hole in the bottom of the marrow and drain off the damson gin.

10. Damsonomics

Boris Johnson coined the ‘phrase ‘damsonomics’ in the Telegraph picking up on Alistair Darling’s exclamation from 2008 ‘things are even worse – our damsons are in distress!’

 

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