damson gin and a tale of unrequited love!

early days in damson gin
Having a Mogwai comes with rules and responsibilities. "But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget no matter how much he cries or how much he begs never, never feed him after midnight." The adorable furry Mogwai becomes a demented gremlin. 

Sadly, gin has the same effect on me. While I am not maniacally leering as I swing from the chandeliers chain-smoking Lucky Strikes, the change from happy Rachel to wailing Rachel is disconcerting to anyone who has ever had the misfortune to witness it.

So this is a food story that comes with a sort of health warning. It is not your health that I worry about, b
ut mine. More my spirituous welfare because while I love gin (and I really do), sadly gin does not like me.

There is nothing as refreshing on a hot summer's day as a tall cold glass, swished with fresh lime juice and topped with a good gin (perhaps Hendricks or Sacred Spirits) and tonic (Fever-Tree) accompanied by a slice of fresh lime and a few ice cubes. This is a grownup drink, elegant in its simplicity. 

damsons, sugar and gin!
Sadly gin does not repay my affection. I am allowed two Gin + Tonics of an evening, three if I am living really dangerously. But seriously, like the Mogwai, this is my ultimate limit. No matter how much I beg, plead or wheedle I can have no more. 

One minute I am the life and soul and the next minute, as if a switch has been flicked; I am staring blearily at my shoes, wailing "nobody loves me"! Although half an hour later, despite the panda eyes, it is as if nothing has ever happened.

So those that can do drink gin, those that can't stick to beer and wine. But damson gin makes a wonderful aperitif (in moderation) and a really good addition to my kitchen repertoire. It is gorgeous stirred into sauces for game such as venison or pheasant and it makes a very good sorbet. 

I really do like damson gin, even if this is a case of unrequited love.

Skill level: Easy

1kg damsons
850g sugar
1.5 litres gin (you can use the cheapest supermarket brands here)

  1. Pick over the damsons and remove any leaves or stems and wash under cold running water and drain, and roughly dry. Place in the freezer overnight. Freezing the damsons can cause the skin to split, which makes the next stage of the process much easier.
  2. The next day, either using a darning needle or the tip of a very sharp knife, make a prick in the damson to nick the skin. The skin may already have split as a result of freezing, but it can't hurt to make another incision. This helps the gin to get into the damson and allow all the fruity goodness to leach into and flavour the gin.
  3. Sterilise a large preserving jar: (A quick way to clean and sterilise jars is to put them on a hot wash in a dishwasher. For those of us who do not have dishwashers (well me - I am my own dishwasher!), then wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water, then rinse well in very hot water. Place jars and lids in the oven at 160C / Gas Mark 3 for about 20 minutes. If using a dishwasher you can skip this stage.
  4. Layer the damsons with sugar, until all the damsons have been covered with sugar.
  5. Add the gin. Seal and leave for at least three months in a cool, dark place for the damsons, gin and sugar to work their magic.
  6. Every couple of days give the sealed jar a bit of a shake, which helps to dissolve the sugar and bruise the fruit further. Soon you will have a magical deep purple liqueur.
  •  This recipe works equally well with sloes.

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