When To Pick Damsons – The Optimal Time Is…

Whether you’re simply curious or have a damson tree in your vicinity, it’s key to have an understanding of when the best time to pick the fruit is. After all, you don’t want to miss the window! To help, I’ve covered it all below for you.

So, when should you pick damsons? Damsons follow a fairly specific, and thus, simple enough, harvesting schedule. Essentially, the optimal harvesting months are August, September, and October each year. You will be able to work out when to pick the damson fruits by the color of their skin, their texture at the time, and even by their taste. 

That’s the gist of it, but there is certainly more to it.

So keep reading if you want to learn exactly when to pick those damsons!

What Month Are Damson Fruits Ready To Pick?

Damson fruits are ready to pick between late Summer and the crux of Autumn.

To better understand the harvesting schedule, it’s useful to first have a grasp of their entire growth timeline.

As with many fruit trees, Winter poses the ideal time to plant damson trees, specifically, the months of November, December, January, February, and March.

This is a fairly simple task given that damson trees are self-fertile and therefore are not dependent on the presence of another damson tree nearby in order to grow and bear fruit. 

It’s important to note that whilst growing damson trees isn’t particularly complex, having patience during the process is a must.

Damson trees can take up to fifteen years to begin developing fruit.

Understandably, it can be difficult to go several years without seeing your tree so much as grow a single damson fruit but hang in there because it will happen, and once it starts, they’ll make an appearance every year.

By the end of April, you’ll find that the damson tree has bloomed with beautiful white singular flowers, a wonderful reminder that Springtime is well underway.

Finally, in a typical year, that is, once the damson tree has started to grow fruit, you’ll see the tree begin to populate with relatively petite ovoid-shaped fruits, with a diameter of no more than 3 cm.

Damsons, at last!

At first, they’ll be green in color, indicating that they are not yet at all ripe.

But with a little time, you’ll see their color evolve to a deep purple with a blue-black tinge, and aside from their unique shape and small size, they’ll uncannily resemble plums.

Nevertheless, despite their close relation to plums, the common plum’s harvesting schedule differs marginally from that of the damson.

Plums can be picked a tad earlier, between July and September each year.

How Do You Know When Damson Fruits Are Ready To Be Picked?

The color of their skin, their texture and their flavour are all key indicators of when damson fruits are ripe and ready to be picked.

There are a couple of ways in which you will know when your damson fruits are ready for you to pick them.

The first indicator is the colour of their skin. When ripe, it takes on a deep blue-black tone.

In addition to this, their texture also offers a solid indication of their readiness. When squeezed, a ripe damson fruit will be soft to touch.

Finally, their flavour offers the ultimate tell.

Their flavour, when ripe couldn’t be more different from when they were unripe. Now, they’ll be sweet whilst retaining a subtle tartness, as opposed to tart and acidic.

And worry not!

The taste test is not a dangerous one as even when unripe, damson fruits are of no danger to humans.

Hence if it transpires that the damson is unripe when bitten into, there will be no harm done, aside from what many would consider to be somewhat of a sour assault on their taste buds!

These three factors are each key to understanding when to pick damson fruits. 

Plus, once the picking process is underway, it’s certainly worth remembering that once picked, damson fruits begin to grow increasingly soft, and they ultimately become overripe and begin to rot.

Hence, beforehand, we recommend giving some thought to how you’ll preserve and utilise them.

From jams to cheeses, chutneys, and many more, there are myriad ways in which damsons can be consumed.

The bonus?

When cooked, they lose even more of the sour notes that remain post-ripening, and become increasingly sweet and pleasant to taste.

Your taste buds will be happy! 

Do Damsons Fruit Every Year?

Technically, damsons do not fruit every year. Reason being, as previously mentioned, once a damson tree is planted, it can take anywhere up to fifteen years for the fruits to first begin to grow. Fortunately, once the tree has started to demonstrate its fruit-bearing potential, the tree’s growth schedule does run on a yearly schedule. However, for its growth to go to plan, pruning the damson tree annually is a must! 

In general, the process of pruning involves removing branches and stubs that are dying or even already dead.

In turn, this creates room for new growth to occur. This concept certainly applies to the damson tree.

By nature, the damson tree is notably twiggy.

When not well maintained, this can be particularly problematic in that the tree’s wood becomes rife with old dead wood at a fairly rapid rate. Hence, pruning is crucial! 

The best time to prune your damson tree is the months of June and July.

Doing so during the Summer rather than the Winter significantly reduces the risk of the plant becoming infected with silver leaf fungus, an infection that commonly affects plum trees of all varieties.

Whilst the infection is treatable, we prefer prevention! 

Do Damsons Ripen Off The Tree?

Once they have been picked, damson fruits continue to ripen at an accelerated rate, causing them to soften even more and if not utilised or consumed in good time, to rot.

For this reason, we recommend placing your ripe damson fruits in the fridge as soon as you’ve picked them and work to preserve or consume them fairly quickly before they become overripe and inedible. 

If you don’t have a consumption plan thought out, your best bet may be the freezer. Damsons can be frozen for up to three months without detriment.

If you do opt for this route, be sure to wash them well beforehand. 

Related Questions

What colour are damsons when ripe?

Ripe damsons bear a deep purple with a blue-black tinge when ripe.

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