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Damsons - where have you been all my life? No, really, where?

If I say damsons, what comes to mind?

Not much? Nothing at all?

Yep, the damson is a bit of an unknown quantity. Until recently, I'd never seen one - in the wild, in a supermarket, wherever - let alone tasted one.

Luckily, a friend of mine who lives in Kent told me she knew where a stash of them could be found in a nearby wood (on common land - no damsons were stolen in the making of this post), and would I like to come for a bit of foraging with her? Yes, yes I would.

It turns out damsons look like small plums, with a more beautifully bright blue tinge. (My friend had never seen a damson either - she was introduced to the fruit and their location by a friendly, damson-savvy neighbour).

We collected about two and a half pounds in all, along with a couple of golf ball sized apples (the foraging had gone to our head by then, I think - who needs five golf ball sized apples?)

Having congratulated ourselves on our gathering skills, we decided we had to address a more pressing problem - just what do you do with a damson?

A brief interlude to consult Google gave us two doable options - damson vodka and damson cobbler.

The damson booze, alas dear reader, I can't tell you anything about. According to the recipe we found, damson vodka requires at least three months sitting in a dark place before the magic can be tasted.

It was a pretty easy recipe to go - prick damsons with fork, put into empty vodka bottle with some sugar, top up with vodka - and I'm very much looking forward to reporting on how it tastes in some months' time.

In the meantime, it looks like a biology experiment - as you can see.

Once the damsons had been formally introduced to the vodka (apparently gin is another option, for those who eschew vodka), we moved onto our second recipe: damson cobbler.

We followed the BBC recipe to the letter, substituting the milk for soy milk and butter for Pure vegan marge obviously.
The cobbler was, in short, a revelation. Who knew damsons tasted so good? They're apparently known as the king of the hedgerows, and now I know why.

They had a rich tartness all their own - somewhere between a plum, a blackberry and a cherry is the dark loveliness of damsons.

The cobbler topping with hazelnuts was fine enough - a nod to sponge cake, a nod to scone mix - but it wasn't the main attraction, even to my sugar-fiend friend.

The damsons blew us away. We couldn't believe we'd never tried this little gem before and we immediately pledged to go foraging once again.

Having missed the damson for my entire life so far, I now know these puce beauties are just too good to miss ever again. Hedgerows, watch out. There's a hungry vegan after you.

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