Starting now and in the weeks ahead, damson plums are beginning to weigh down their trees. They're a small, tart plum with a dark and dusty skin that's as beautiful to look at as the fruit is pleasurable to eat:
Originally the Plum of Damascus, the plum was cultivated by ancient Romans, who eventually introduced it to England. Used most often in jams and jellies, damson plums can also be used for wines and liqueors.
One favorite in my family is to preserve jars of the whole pitted plum (with plenty of sugar) in late summer. Throughout the winter, the jars can be opened and eaten over oatmeal, ice cream, or heated and served warm in a bit of their tart juice.