However, identifying their berries is quite tricky. They look similar and vibrant fruits closely related to each other, belonging to the plum family. Noticing their size, shape, color, plant body, taste, and harvesting schedule can help differentiate Sloes and Damsons. You may also see our blog about wonderful orchid gifts for every enthusiast.
Damson is similar to the Victoria plum but is small in size, while Sloe is a Blackthorn bush with a comparably smaller berry. In this article, we have shared the distinctive properties of Sloes and Damsons in detail to help you understand them better.
What Is The Difference Between Sloes And Damsons?
It is common to mistake sloes for damsons, but knowing the basic dissimilarities, you can get the right one you want. Here are some differences you must consider:
How Are They Originated?
One noticeable difference between sloes and damsons is their origin. Sloes are widely spread all across Europe, Western Asia, and Africa. On the other hand, damson has its root in Syria, as the name is derived from Damascus.
However, through massive export, both are abundant in the UK.
Difference In Plant Type
Though both belong to a plum family, Sloe grows on trees and bushes like blackthorn bush. In comparison, Damson grows more specifically on trees of small and large sizes in different outdoor places.
How Do They grow?
The blackthorn bush bearing sloes takes almost eight years to grow from seed to final stage. The blackthorn bush can hardly attain three meters of height, whereas the damson tree can grow up to six meters tall.
Damson takes almost 15 years to evolve from seed to a tree-bearing fruit. The barks of the damson tree are thinner.
When And How They Are Harvested?
Sloes are fully ripened when the first winter frost hits the berries. After reaching the ripening level, you should pick sloes but not when they are unripe. The winter frost plays a role in softening the sloe skin and changing its bitter and sour taste to sweet and palatable. However, you can pick them before winter to avoid them being damaged by birds. You can leave them in the freezer for further ripening.
Damsons are ready to be harvested in August and October. But the tree starts flowering to full bloom in Spring.
How Do They Differ In Size & Shape?
By comparing the size and shape, you can notice that sloes are smaller, up to 1 cm in size, and round, just like blueberries.
In contrast, Damsons are the double size of sloes and are oblong instead of round. You will see damsons hanging on the long stalks of trees.
How They Are Eaten?
As both are berries, they are eaten in different forms. Damsons are usually cooked to make jams, chutneys, and cheeses.
Sloes are most famous for making gin.
How to Identify Sloes?
It is easy to identify sloes by just looking at the blackthorn shrub. Other helping parts are leaves, fruits, flowers, twigs, black bark, and numerous thorns.
The blackthorn shrubs are quite dense and often used as shelter by hedgehogs and birds to build nests. You can find them grown in rocky terrains and woodlands with an average height of three meters.
The plant has different kinds of leaves that are small and oval, covering white flowers. The flowering starts from March to May. However, the berries are round blue-black with an average size of 1 cm. The fruit encloses a large stone that makes the sloe less fleshy.
You can taste the sloe or look at its color to find out if it’s ripened or needs more time to harvest. Sloes are often confused with cherries, but their sharp and mouth-drying taste can prevent this confusion.
How to Identify Damsons?
The large egg-like, fleshy fruits - damsons are also easy to identify. The ovoid fruit, green leaves with toothed edges, and yellow-green inside make it easy to distinguish damson from other berries. The texture is smooth, while the color sometimes ranges from dark blue to indigo and black.
Damson fruit attains a maximum 3 cm size where the plant is completely thornless. With the onset of April, white flowers start to bloom on trees.
The taste of damson is mouth-watering as well as highly bitter. Cooking makes the taste much better. That’s why damsons are quite often used in jams and chutneys. Unlike sloes, damsons taste is bearable, while sloes can dry your mouth due to excessive tartness.
Do Sloes taste like Damsons?
There is not much but a slight difference in the taste of sloes and damsons. Sloes have a bitter taste, and you can’t bear the taste of unripe sloe, while damson has a more sharp taste and turns into best when cooked.
Are Sloes and Damsons Same?
It is critical to find the differences as both plants are small and dark, but sloes grow on blackthorn bushes while damson grows on larger trees. Also, the fruit size and shape have a significant difference.
Is Damson Gin the same as Sloe Gin?
Both are not the same; damson gin is made with damson flavorings, while sloe gin is prepared with sloe berries. Though both are types of plum, the particular gin is made by infusing fruit inside the gin.
The Bottom Line
So, what is the difference between sloes and damsons? To summarize, the tree, blackthorn shrub, berry size, color, shape, and taste are quite helping characteristics to differentiate.
People often get confused, but you can see there are many differences. We hope next time you will pick the right berry, whether sloe or damson, by knowing their nature.