I'm still not actually sure if the purple fruit gathered on a dry evening's walk by the canal is damson, bullace or sloes....or maybe even an combination. Sloes are the fruit of Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) and hang closer to the spiny branches and the leaf is a simple pinnate oval shape and serrated. The classic fruit for adding to gin or making a jelly with.
Bullace (Prunus domestica subspecies insititia) is a plum, similar to damson but I think tarter and here it seems a little complex with many regional types of Bullace. Both it and Damsons are related to the domestic plum and can be used to make all sorts from pies to fruit preserves.
Whatever they are, (I'm opting for damsons) we gathered a small bag full of them. Reaching up into the trees laden with purple skinned beauties as the sun shone through. Harvest time. I'm new to foraging and keen to learn more. There feels a homely nostalgia to picking these damsons, once more popular but now forgone for more profitable and easier to harvest plums. Similar to last year's bilberry picking adventure in heathland, it just feels so satisfying to be out gathering these out of favour fruits and I feel like I'm harking back to the 1940's and off to make jam.
Once home, they were washed and pricked with a cocktail stick and then placed in lovely glass jars with sugar and rum. Already the rum is now purple and will be hopefully the most delicious tipple I've ever had in my life on Christmas Day. And then the discarded damsons steeped in alcohol can become a stodgy, warming pudding in that lull winter period after the festivities.