I’m going to say it, Christmas is just around the corner! Having lived overseas for many years, I am used to getting Christmas prep done and dusted before the last post home. So what is better than a little homemade tipple for the festive season – a lovely drop of autumn berry gin?
Planning this little treat ahead could save you that last minute dash to get a present for Great Aunt Marge who at the last second decides to join you for Christmas, wow your friends with a homemade drinks and mince pie evening, or just to sit and drink yourself!
Around WNWN HQ is an area full of foraging delights, well, by foraging delights we mean sloes and blackberries. Autumnal dog walks for our family consist of slow, leisurely strolls around the countryside with small hands stopping at every available blackberry bush to fill their punnets. As fantastic as this is, returning home with near on half a kilo of berries got me wondering what on earth to do with them all that wasn’t apple and blackberry crumble?
Following a trip to Scotland last year, my other half bought me a delicious bramble gin liqueur, which throughout the winter took over from a cream sherry as my Sunday lunch cooking accompaniment, because who doesn’t need a bit of sweet winter warmth while the smell of roasties and chicken wafts through the house? Staring at my punnet of blackberries my very own winter tipple was born. In addition to the abundance of blackberries in the local area we have some established sloe bushes, ripe for the picking. Happy small hands all round, and a very happy hound as we set back out to gather some sloes to add to the mix.
Once picked, a quick dash out to get some gin and I was ready to get to work. The internet is awash with recipes for the perfect sloe gin, but in the end I turned to a simple, and I hope effective recipe:
- 450g of fruit
- 225g of sugar
- 1 litre of gin
Firstly I made sure the fruit was properly washed, and I was pleased to say only one caterpillar was recovered in the process! Some recipes say that sloes need to be pricked with a needle all over, some say it’s not required – I went for the meet in the middle approach of pricking them a few times each – the blackberries don’t need to be pricked.
Once the fruit is prepared put it, the sugar and the gin into a sterilised container, close the lid tightly and shake. We shook until all of the sugar had dissolved. For the first week we shook the bottles every other day as per the recipe requirements. Sloe gin then requires a further two months of being stored in a dark cupboard, being shaken every week. After two months, strain with a muslin cloth and decant into sterilised bottles.
Of course this is my choice for a winter warming tipple, but you could do this with any fruit. My folks are partial to making raspberry gin in the summer, the perfect accompaniment to prosecco!
With a while to go yet until I can sample my gin, I am hopeful that this will be as scrumptious as my taste buds are imagining it to be. With half term around the corner this could be the perfect activity to busy up a few hours if you have small army of pickers to help out, and it’ll be ready just in time for Christmas.