Lyth Valley Damsons

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Other common names

Westmorland Damsons, Witherslack Damsons and Kendal Damsons.

What are my special features?

Lyth Valley Damsons are an old English native fruit, similar to plums. Purple-black in colour, with yellow-green flesh they have a delicious, distinctive slightly tart flavour. Damsons are found elsewhere in the UK, but the Lyth Valley variety is particularly aromatic.

What is my history?

The orchards of the Lyth Valley, Southern Lake District, Cumbria date back to the 1850’s. The unique geographical features of the valley provide an excellent micro-climate for cultivation. The fruit which is said to take its name from Damascus in Syria was grown both as a crop and also used as a dye in the Yorkshire wool industry. However, when the wool industry declined, many orchards fell to neglect and were abandoned.

Within Cumbria, the fruit is sold locally in season and a wide range of artisan Cumbrian products are now made with the damsons, such as traditional Damson Fruit Cheese, a delicious, rich, well-set jelly. The Crosthwaite Damson Day is now an annual spring event.

Why am I forgotten?

Many of the existing orchards have been neglected and the Damson trees are old which is problematic for successful harvests. However, in recent years, the Countryside Commission and local enthusiasts have brought about a revival of interest in the Lyth Valley Damson resulting in orchards being replanted. The production and consumption of the fruit is still much localised.

Don’t lose me… cook me!

Product Category:

Fruit

Area of production:

Lyth Valley in the Southern Lake District in Cumbria

Slow Food UK contact:

arkoftaste@slowfood.org.uk

 

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