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According to local tradition, the Crusaders or Bernard de Clairvaux brought seeds for the Damassinier plant back from the Orient (hence its name originating from Damascus “fr Damas”). The Romans might have already known the fruit, cited in the Duhamel de Monceau encyclopaedia. In the Jura area, the first citation dates back to a written reference regarding a “Grandfontaine” plantation in 1791.
Damassine is a small red prune of “a thousand scents”. Of round to slightly oval shape, it weighs between 6 and 10 grams and measures approximately 26,5 x 23,5 and 22,5 mm in diameter. The colour of its skin is not uniform. Predominantly from pink to red, it can even be dark red on the sun-exposed side, whilst slightly yellow with reddish dots on its "shadowy" side. However, size and colour may vary from season to season, from tree to tree and even from one branch to the other.
The fruit ripens around the first days of August. When fully ripe it falls from the tree naturally. This is the right time to collect the fruit, as picking it up or shaking it from the tree would result in a loss of flavour and scent.
Eau de vie
The aromas are very complex, composed of different kinds of ingredients. The scents of wild prune dominate, with herbal and almond touches. The latter can easily be explained by the fruit morphology (proportion of kernel and flesh). The herbal touches must come from the fact that it has to be gathered once falling onto the ground. The secondary scents and aromas are those of the other similar kernel fruits (cherries, Mirabelle), sweetness (honey, dried banana) and spices (coriander, cloves with a little touch of cinnamon).
- History of Damassine
- Terroir Jura
- Jura Information (in French)
- Patrimoine culinaire suisse Official Site of the Culinary Swiss Patrimony with infos on Damassine and another odd 400 produce/recipes