In the second week of August I noticed a change in the air which could mean only one thing. Autumn is on its way. If like me, you are lucky enough to sleep with doors and windows wide open, it’s that moment when you wake and need to put a cardigan on. There’s an indescribable but unmistakable chill and freshness in the air as Mother Nature lets out a large sigh after her energy spent yielding.
And what a summer it has been. We have had a great dry summer down on the South Coast, with a bit of a glitch in August which has given the earth a great soaking and push for the final harvest. The harvest has certainly been fruitful. The hedgerows are laid with fruit as far as the eyes can see. I can’t remember a time when I ate so many blackberries. I have such a fruitful yield that I have decided to have a go at Blackberry Vodka. I will have to wait till Christmas to taste the fruits of my labour. I thought I would include the recipes.
Sterilise a Kilner jar and add 350g of granulated sugar, 350g of berries of your choice and a litre of medium quality Vodka. Stir every day till the sugar fully dissolves and then stir weekly for a few months. Keep in a dark dry cupboard. The infused Vodka will be ready after 3 months and will last as long as you can resist. It’s a good idea to place a bit of masking tape on your Kilner jar with your recipe proportions in case you want to adjust it a little next year.
I am going to have a go with Damson Gin and Sloe gin this year too – in for a penny, in for a pound. It is also a fabulous excuse to take Amos (the dog) off for a good woodland hike to gather the fruits. Damsons are ready about now but you may have a job to find a wild damson tree. Sloes are ready from now till January, some say you need to let the frost get them first, some say they are fine to pick now.
DAMSON / SLOE GIN
Very similar method to the berry vodka, just make sure you prick the damsons or sloes with a fork or needle.
- 1 lb of damsons or sloes, 4 oz of white granulated sugar and 75cl of medium quality gin
- 2-3 drops of almond essence only with the sloe gin
Shake the kilner jar till all the sugar has dissolved. Leave it in a dark cool cupboard for 3 months. You need to strain the grog through muslin anytime between 3 months and a year later. The longer you leave it the better. The grog will last years!.
Happy harvesting and infusing y’all. It’s gonna be a merry Christmas!.