Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd: Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

Dazzling Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd: Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd: Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd:

Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

Dazzling Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd: Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

Dazzling Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd: Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

For those of you in the preserving world, there will be no need to introduce Vivien Lloyd, as she is a well-known and much respected WI judge, as well as being the author of First Preserves (Marmalades, Jams, Chutneys), a best-selling and hugely informative preserves cookbook, as well as several eBooks about jam, marmalade and chutney. As an avid preserver of many years, (about twenty years to be precise) Vivien and I often share our passion for traditional methods of preserving via her hugely popular #vivjamchat sessions on Twitter, as well as through emails and my blog; in fact, some of my readers will remember I reviewed Vivien’s book First Preserves, several months ago and made two of her delectable recipes for my review…….Apple & Ginger Jam and Book Review – First Preserves by Vivien Lloyd and Preserves from the Pantry! Apricot & Orange Chutney from First Preserves by Vivien Lloyd. Both preserves were easy to follow from her book and were VERY well received by family and friends! So, when Vivien invited me and two other food writer/blogger friends down to her home for a Damson Day Preserves Workshop last week, I was thrilled to accept. I was delighted to hear that the other two “students” for the day were none other than my lovely Lancashire Lass friend, Sue, (from Not Just Any Old Baking Blogspot) as well as the charming Charlotte (from Charlotte’s Kitchen Diary) – both of them are very good friends of mine, and I have had the privilege of meeting them both in the past.

Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd: Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd: Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

The day started off with jam! A lovely breakfast was provided with pots of Vivien’s home-made jam and marmalade, as well as some of her home-made brioche – a recipe from Crust by Richard Bertinet. For those of you who are interested in attending one of Vivien’s excellent preserves workshops, all the dates and details are listed here: Vivien’s Courses and there is a wonderful B and B,   The Old Vicarage in Kilmersdon, nearby that will be happy to accommodate any jam makers.

Brioche - a recipe from Crust by Richard Bertinet

Brioche – a recipe from Crust by Richard Bertinet

Vivien had devised a wonderful day in celebration of Damsons – Damson Day, and we were going to be able to watch, prepare and cook three preserves alongside her: Damson Cheese, Damson and Apple Jelly and Damson, Ginger and Cardamom Chutney. Vivien and her husband live in a beautiful old Somerset farmhouse, where the courses are held; they have their own orchard as well as growing their own soft fruits, and as we soon discovered, they also have a hot-house devoted to numerous types of chillies!

Home-Grown Chillies in the Lloyd Kitchen!

Home-Grown Chillies in the Lloyd Kitchen!

The kitchen was large and airy and there was ample space for all four of us to prepare the fruit at the kitchen table, as well as observe Vivien in close proximity; three preserves is a lot to manage in a day, so the fruit and vegetables has already been prepared for the Damson, Ginger and Cardamom chutney, but Sue and I set about chopping the apples for the Damson and Apple Jelly as soon as breakfast was over, and then progressed onto pitting and sieving the cooked damsons for the Damson Cheese. Vivien provided us with aprons and recipe notes, and as I expected, she was very informative and knowledgeable about  the history and traditions of all things preserving, and, although I consider myself to be a confident and experienced preserver, I learnt SO much from the one day workshop, with valuable tips about when to add the sugar to chutney and jams, as well as how to gauge the setting point for jellies and fruit cheeses.

Vivien's Home-Made Raspberry Jam from her First Preserves Book

Vivien’s Home-Made Raspberry Jam from her First Preserves Book

We made the Damson Cheese and Damson Chutney in the morning before lunch, which was a lovely spiced cod and salmon dish followed by citrus and almond cake, and chocolate coated damson cheese sweetmeats. Vivien’s preserves courses include lunch as well as tea and coffee, and are excellent value at £85 per person.  She holds two kind of workshops at present – “Making days” which  include demonstrations and hands-on preparation, cooking and finishing marmalades, jams or chutneys, and learning about selecting fruit, pectin levels, setting point, sterilising and bottling your preserves. And “Competition days” that take you through the exact judging process explaining the marking system and what the judges look for in a competition. You will be encouraged to evaluate your own marmalade, jam or chutney and take part in a taste test. Our Press Day workshop was a combination  of  both courses, and was extremely interesting. 

Vivien's Citrus (Orange) and Almond Dessert Cake

Vivien’s Citrus (Orange) and Almond Dessert Cake

All the ingredients for our Damson Day preserves workshop were provided, and we were also able to take away a pot of each preserve…….the fruits of our preserving day! Rather than copying all my copious notes here, about the individual preserves that I made, I have permission from Vivien to share two of the recipes in this post - Damson Cheese, Damson and Apple Jelly, with photos added to the step-by-step procedure within the recipe steps;  the third recipe for Damson, Ginger and Cardamom chutney can be found in Vivien’s book First Preserves. I have added a couple of video snippets from Vivien’s website below, to whet your appetite with a view to purchasing her book or eBooks…..I love the videos that are shown in the eBooks, and they will prove invaluable for novices and experienced jam makers alike.

First Preserves – Jam

First Preserves – Chutney

After lunch we proceeded with our last preserve of the day, which was the Damson and Apple Jelly; the pulp had been draining for several hours and the juice was then measured and the sugar added, according to the juice to sugar ratio (as shown in the recipes below) before being boiled to setting point and potted. We now had jars and jars of glowing jelly, rich Bordeaux coloured chutney and ruby red cheese…..it was indeed a veritable treasure of Damson Delicacies, but,  the day had also yielded so much more for me, I had learnt new tips for chutney making, as well as invaluable jelly and marmalade tricks of the trade, especially in respect to showing them at local fairs and shows. Viven is a long time WI preserves judge and she is going to be featured on BBC One Show this TUESDAY 18th September, so DO tune in for that, as I will be doing…..it will be an interesting programme!

Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd: Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd: Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

And what will  I do with my new-found knowledge? I will be making all three recipes at home, for gift giving and for “general daily use”; plus, I also think that I am a more confident preserver now – you are never too old to learn new tricks and tips, and, for me, the essence of Vivien’s Workshop was very definitely the knowledge that I took away with me, as well as the passion that she has for traditional preserving procedures and age-old recipes - the use of local and home-grown ingredients and the act of preserving them, “laying them down” for the winter months……it is indeed an alchemy – from damson to dazzling jelly!  One of Vivien’s workshops would not only be enjoyable for old-hands (like me), but they will give confidence to new jam makers, as well as useful tips for those who want to sweep the board at the local WI Jam Competitions…..and, I think they would also make a great Christmas gift too.

Damson and Apple Jelly

Damson and Apple Jelly

Before I leave, I am delighted to tell you, that Vivien has offered me a copy of one her eBooks, First Preserves – Chutney, as a Giveaway on my blog……to celebrate the onset of the autumn chutney season……I will be posting the giveaway in  a separate post later, but I will pop back here to add the link for ease! And one more thing, watch out for Vivien’s Chutney Chat on Twitter on the 27th September, between 5 and 7pm#vivchutneychat is the hash tag to follow and she will be there to answer all your chutney queries! I’ll be there too……

With a HUGE thanks to Vivien and her husband for making me feel so welcome, their hospitality, the chilli lesson, for the superb food and  drink as well as the preserves instruction;  a big hello and thanks to Rob from Big Blu Design too,  for your suggestions, I will be in touch and finally, a big thanks to Sue  for lifts to and from the station, and to Charlotte for transporting my preserves to me – they were too hot to handle when I left for the train!

Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd: Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

Damson Day with Vivien Lloyd: Autumn Preserves Workshop in an Old Somerset Farmhouse

Disclaimer: I participated in a Press Preserves Workshop at Vivien Lloyd’s home, and was not required or asked to write a review post on my blog; I chose to share my experiences, as I believe the course was excellent and I would like to promote it. All views expressed are my own and this is not a sponsored post. Karen S Burns-Booth

Recipes:

Damson and Apple Jelly

Serves 5 x 225g jars
Prep time 2 hours, 30 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 2 hours, 40 minutes
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Breakfast, Condiment, Side Dish, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
By author Vivien Lloyd
This jewelled damson and apple jelly is wonderful on toast, as well as when added to casseroles and sauces. Also perfect when served with cheese and cold cuts.

Ingredients

  • 2 kilos cooking apples (washed)
  • 1 kilo damsons (washed)
  • granulated cane sugar

Note

This jewelled damson and apple jelly is wonderful on bread and toast, as well as when added to casseroles and sauces. Also perfect when served with cheese and cold cuts.

Directions

Step 1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Remove any bruised or damaged parts from the apples and roughly chop them into large chunks without peeling or coring.
Step 2 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Put the apples and damsons in a preserving pan with 1.1 litres of water and simmer for at least half an hour or until the fruit is soft and pulpy. Stir from time time to prevent sticking.
Step 3 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Spoon the fruit into a jelly bag and leave to strain into a large bowl for at least 2 hours.
Step 4 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Discard the pulp in the bag. Measure the juice and return it to the pan with 450g of sugar for each 600ml juice extracted.
Step 5 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Heat the juice gently and dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and boil hard for and test for a set every 4 minutes. Test for a set using the flake test. Remove from the heat and remove any scum on the surface of the jelly with a metal spoon. Pot into clean, warm 225g jars and seal with new twist top lids.
Damson and Apple Jelly

Damson and Apple Jelly

Damson Cheese

Serves Makes about 1.5kg
Prep time 2 hours
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 2 hours, 30 minutes
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Breakfast, Condiment
Misc Pre-preparable
Occasion Christmas
By author Vivien Lloyd
A delicious and traditionally made fruit cheese that makes the most of the damson season. Makes attractive gifts and is perfect for the Autumn cheeseboard as well as when served with charcuterie. Also wonderful when coated in chocolate and served as an after dinner petits four.

Ingredients

  • 1.4kg damsons
  • 150ml water
  • granulated cane sugar

Note

A delicious and traditionally made fruit cheese that makes the most of the damson season. Makes attractive gifts and is perfect for the autumn cheeseboard as well as when served with charcuterie. Also wonderful when coated in chocolate and served as an after dinner petits four.

Directions

Step 1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Cook the damsons in the water in a covered pan over a low heat until the fruit is reduced to a pulp. Sieve and weigh the pulp - there should be about 1.13kg.
Step 2 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Pour the pulp back into the pan and cook until the excess water has evaporated and the pulp is thick.
Step 3 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Weigh the sugar. Allow 450g for each 450g of measured pulp. Add and dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the cheese is thick. When a spoon is drawn across the bottom there should be a clean line through the cheese.
Step 4 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Pour into ramekins or moulds lightly smeared with glycerine. Seal with waxed discs and when cold, add a cellophane cover, secured with a rubber band.
Damson Cheese

Damson Cheese

Photo Gallery:

Raspberries in Vivien's Garden

Raspberries in Vivien’s Garden

Apple in the Orchard

Apple in the Orchard

“Best of the Best” for her Seville orange marmalade

“Best of the Best” for her Seville orange marmalade

Roses and a Cuppa!

Roses and a Cuppa!

A hard days' work!

A hard days’ work!

Chocolate Covered Damson Cheese Sweetmeats

Chocolate Covered Damson Cheese Sweetmeats

Cumin Flatbread for Lunch

Cumin Flatbread for Lunch

WHY?

WHY?

Comments

  1. says

    What a wonderful day out. I really do love the colour of damson’s when they are cooked. The damson cheese coated in chocolate looks amazing. And how much fun it must have been. Now you will be even better at jam making!! xx

    • says

      Thanks Laura! A great day was had by all and I learnt so much. I plan to make some recipes with some of my damson booty over the next few weeks…..and yes, the chocolate coated damson cheese treats we’re lush! Karen :-)

  2. says

    What a great day. I took a similar course at Leith’s (Marmalade and Chutney) and had the same problem with hot preserves at the end of the day, I had to ring one of my sons to come and pick me and the marmalade up, the tube and bus were not going to work!

    • says

      It was so funny Jude, I wanted to take my preserves on the day I made them, but, they were really too hot to handle and so Charlotte kindly brought them back for me – up to London! The day was just fantastic….loved every minute of it! Karen

  3. says

    That was a lovely day, and you have captured it so well, it was so enjoyable; and I can tell you spending the day with Karen is like being with the food version of Wikipedia…the amazing knowledge of Karen + Viv together was brilliant. xxx

    • says

      Thanks Sue! It was BRILLIANT that we spent some time together too, as last time, we only had a couple of hours at Castle Howard in the tea room! Looking forward to seeing you at the Manchester Blog Camp! Karen

  4. says

    I am so envious of your day, it sounds fabulous. I do so love jellies, it’s the jewel like quality they have that makes them so spectacular. But I’ve never made damson jelly before, it looks gorgeous.

    • says

      Thanks Choclette! It was a great day and even though I am a jam maker, as well as most preserves, I did learn so many new things! The damson jelly is divine and I plant to serve with with an autumn casserole very soon!

  5. says

    what a wonderful day you have had and what a brilliant write up… and that Damson Jelly is to die for… I have a secret damson bush in an old garden down the road and I now know what will become of them… and i’m really not a big jam maker myself, so this is true inspiration… delightful!

    • says

      Thanks Dom! It was a wonderful day and the damson preserves that we took away with us are JUST lush! I am really interested to see what you make with your secret damsons, and I won’t tell anyone where the secret tree is either!

        • says

          Thanks Vivien, and once again, I cannot thank you both enough for your warm welcome, great preserving instruction, all the lovely food and the damson treats that we took home! I am ABSOLUTELY on for marmalade and curds next! Yes! :-) Karen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>