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Green Bullace gin recipe


a basket of green bullaces from the hedgerows

I worked for a few hours today. Saturday. Sometimes it’s worth doing some time at the weekend when the builders are not there. It’s peaceful and I can crack on. Two hours usually seems to drift into four hours and suddenly I see the sun getting lower in the sky.

I shot home at 4.30 pm, desperate to catch a couple of hours in the garden before dark. As I passed Broad Green I noticed the footpath to the bullace hunting ground. I had checked the bullace situation a few weeks ago. Hedge trimmers had ripped along the hedgerows, chopping the possibility of a great harvest. However, green bullaces are tricky to spot. It was worth pulling in for a quick recce, just in case.

I examined the hedgerows carefully and found these. 500g of bullaces that would have gone over if they’d been left for a few more days. I picked them, finding more and more as my eyes became accustomed to the look of them on the branch. The backdrop was a sky so blue that it was hard to believe that it is already mid October.

I drove through the village and mulled over how I would use them. They could be added to the sharp wild plums in the freezer to make chutney. However these bullaces are so sweet that they cried out to be made into a liqueur.

N.B .The bullaces that we were given from Kent last year were the dark, sharp tasting variety. These need far more sugar than our green bullaces – a small wild greengage. So I cut down the sugar for this brew. We can always add more at a later stage. I didn’t want to oversweeten the grog.


A 1 L litre Le Parfait or Kilner jar.

Green Bullace gin recipe
Recipe Type: Liqueur
Author: fiona Nevile
  • 300g of green bullaces
  • 85g of granulated white sugar
  • 0.75 litres of medium quality supermarket own brand gin (I know that loads of people use the cheapest gin but think of the morning after!)
  1. Wash, destalk and sort your bullaces. Reject and fruit that is squishy.
  2. Put the bullaces in a sterilised wide necked jar. Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit and top up with the gin.
  3. Leave the jar on the side in the kitchen and shake until the sugar is dissolved (this will take a few days). Store in a cool place for at least three months before sampling.
  4. Strain the liquor through muslin after six months. Keep as long as you can bear to. We keep all our grog in the barn. Out of sight, out of mind. Until you go out searching for something that might be lurking in the barn.


  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Graeme

    You can thin the grog with more vodka. Shake well and infuse for a week.

    Hello SK

    Greengages in anything would be great!

    Hi bfg

    Blackberries in alcohol need to be removed after 3 months as they tend to woody the taste after this.

    Around here all sloes are harvested really early by optimistic pickers. If you have to harvest early bung them in the freezer for a day before proceeding – it makes a big difference (just like the first frosts).

    Hello Tom

    I agree about the sloes and thanks from the bottom of my heart for the quince gin recipe. I love quince and gin and vodka. Planning to road test both!

    Hello Basil

    Chutney? Why not? Danny is fingering the preserving pan as my fingers fly across the keyboard.

    Hi Sarah

    Delighted that you found white bullaces!

    Treat white bullace the same as green. Try them with vodka as well as gin. More and more I find that I prefer the clean vodka taste with the fruit.

    There’s a great conversion site for ingredients here

  2. I have just come home from picking white bullace. Do I use them the same as you use the green? They are quite ripe, sweet but tangy.

    I am looking forward to trying this recipe! I have spent the past year and a half looking for Sloes (although they will grow, they are not popular here in Portland, Oregon, USA.). I was fortunate to find a gentleman who grows a wide assortment of fruit trees, and grapes. His sloe bush was nearly picked clean by the birds, but I got a few cup fulls. He suggested that I try the Bullace, and I jumped at that idea since I remembered reading about them on your site!

    Thanks Fiona & Danny for the inspiration! Now I just need to work on figuring out measurements in cups and ounces.

  3. Basil Abbott

    Have just made a bullace, blackberry and beetroot chutney. Mmmm…


  4. Tom Wells

    Sloe gin is much better if the sloes have had a frost or two before you pick them – if they haven’t been frosted, it can be very oily. But you can simply pick the sloes as soon as they’re ripe, and put them in the freezer for a day or two – seems to do the job!

    Ref. quinces, quince vodka is fantastic – simply grate the entire quince, skin, pips and all, with a coarse grater, stick it in a big jar and cover the gratings with vodka. Leave six months or more, adding a little sugar to taste. Don’t add too much sugar, because this is a delightfully dry drink, which even makes a good aperitif when chilled.


  5. What an interesting idea. I™ve got nearly 3kg of mixed windfall greengages & plums at varying stages of ripeness in my freezer “ I was just going to make jam.
    Has anyone tried with blackberries ? They are very good this year in our part of the world “ well mixed between sweet & sour.
    I™m slightly worried about how many sloes are falling already. Is it just an old wives™ tale that they are better after a frost ? I™d hate to lose them all to the birds & weather (& we™re unlikely to get a frost until the beginning of next year). Should I harvest soon ?

  6. I was thinking of trying greengages with white rum this year, as I’ve had success with plums and mirabelles in rum. I haven’t tried them in gin though.

  7. I made some bullace vodka last year and that was lovely, but became very thick and no matter how much it was strained I still had a distinct liquid layer and a, well, not so liquid layer at the bottom!

    Still it tasted great!

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Victoria

    If the greengages are very seet use a quarter of the sugar and top up after a month if necessary. In fact you could use no added sugar as the greengages have plenty and add incrementally (monthly) if necessary.

  9. Victoria

    I use a new pair of tights to filter out all the big stuff. Works very well!

    Could you make this recipe with greengages as well. Mine are very ripe and I’m wondering how much sugar to use?

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Peter,

    I’d love to hear your review of this method.

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