The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Two recipes: Wild Damson Gin and Sloe Gin recipes

Photo of a bowl of wid damsons

Wild damsons are a beautiful rich dark colour


Unlike sloes, wild damsons are hard to find. For every thirty wild plum trees there may be just one wild damson tree. When I spot wild damsons in the hedgerows, they are harvested into a special bag.

These, and the diminutive bullace, are the kings of hedgerow fruit. These tiny fruit make such an irresistible liqueur that overnight guests have actually turned down Danny’s famous cooked breakfast, and gone back to bed to sleep off the excesses of the night before.

Our damson and sloe gin is not the thick ultra sweet variety. We prefer the sugar to enhance rather than shield the flavour. Every three months or so it’s sampled and, if necessary, topped up with sugar. Usually no extra sugar is needed.

We try to keep our damson and sloe gin well away from the drinks tray! Each year we make a lot of fruit gin and vodka (more recipes to follow, in time). Sloe gin is the big craze at the moment around here, as sloes are more plentiful.

Here are our recipes for both. We are also starting experimenting with sloe gin see this post for details

Tips and tricks:

  • Make more than you need the first year, so you can compare different vintages. This liqueur does improve over time.
  • Some people drain the grog through muslin after a couple of months, to clarify the liqueur and bottle. We don’t bother as one old soak tipped that, once the gin is drunk, you can pour medium sherry on the fruit and start all over again! The latter is devilish and drinkable within three months. We have a recipe for this in our wine and gin section.
  • Keep your fruit gin away from the light as this will maintain the colour. Unless it is in a dark green or brown bottle. Wrapping it in brown parcel paper will keep out the light.
  • Make notes on a label of your fruit gin/vodka /sugar ratio and stick it onto the bottle(s) so that you have a record, if you make a particularly good batch. We note our responses as the grog matures. Yucky after sixth months can be to die for in a year (you will probably not remember without notes). Notes seem boring when you are making the grog but they are so worthwhile when you start again the next year. It won’t be long before you will get a feel of what works well for your taste (and the notes will come into their own).
  • Adding almond essence to sloe gin lifts it from good to great. I haven’t tried this with the damson gin but return in a years’ time for our review.
  • Don’t kill the liqueur with too much sugar at the start. Use the amount above to start your sloe or damson gin and then every couple of months take a tiny sip. At this time add more sugar if it is too sharp for your taste.
  • Gin v Vodka? Vodka can be used as the spirit for these recipes. Although I’m a vodka drinker, we tend to stick to a gin base for our fruit liqueurs.
  • A good damson gin can be made from ordinary damsons available in the shops. As they are bigger you would need to put them into a larger Le Parfait jar (I’d use a 2 litre size).
  • People have been picking sloes from September 1st around here. Some people say that you shouldn’t pick sloes until after the first frost. This can be circumvented by putting your sloes in the freezer overnight. We don’t bother with either method and always have great results.
  • This year we have made up a number of small (1lb honey jars) of sloe gin to give as Christmas presents.

 

Wild Damson Gin and sloe gin Recipes
Recipe Type: Liqueurs
Prep time: 15 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Ingredients
  • Wild damson gin:
  • 1lb/454gm of washed wild damsons
  • 6 ozs/168gm of white granulated sugar
  • 75cl bottle of medium quality gin
  • Sterilised 1 litre (at least) Le Parfait jar or wide necked bottle with stopper/cork
  • Sloe Gin:
  • 1lb/454gm of washed sloes
  • 4 ozs/112gm of white granulated sugar
  • 75cl bottle of medium quality gin
  • Sterilised 1 litre (at least) Le Parfait jar or wide necked bottle
  • 1-2 drops of almond essence
Instructions
  1. Wild damson gin:
  2. Wash damsons well and discard any bad or bruised fruit. Prick fruit several times with a fork and place damsons in either a large
  3. Kilner/Le Parfait jar or a wide necked 1 litre bottle.
  4. Using a funnel, add the sugar and top up with gin to the rim.
  5. Shake every day until the sugar is dissolved and then store in a cool, dark place until you can resist it no longer (leave for at least three months, we usually let it mature for a year). If you are planning to drink this after 3 months, have a nip afetr a month, and top up with sugar to taste.
  6. Some people strain the grog (through muslin/jelly bag) after 3 months and bottle it, leaving it mature for six months. We strain and bottle after a year. Don’t leave the straining process any longer than a year; leaving the fruit in too long can spoil the liqueur, as we found to our cost one year.
  7. Sloe gin:
  8. Wash sloes well and discard any bruised or rotten fruit. Prick fruit several times with a fork and place sloes in either a large Kilner/Le Parfait jar or a wide necked 1 litre bottle. I put several sloes in my palm to prick them rather than picking them up one by one.
  9. Using a funnel, add the sugar and top up with gin to the rim. Always open sugar bags over the sink as sugar tends to get caught in the folds at the top of the bag.
  10. Add the almond essence.
  11. Shake every day until the sugar is dissolved and then store in a cool, dark place until you can resist it no longer (leave for at least three months, we usually let it mature for a year).
  12. Some people strain the grog (through muslin/jelly bag) after 3 months and bottle it, leaving it mature for six months. We strain and bottle after a year.

  Leave a reply

709 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mags,

    Don’t worry. I am pretty sure that you don’t need to throw it away. When we make fruit gins we collect gin bottles, with the caps, on for a few months. I never sterilise these as they contained gin. Sprits, unlike wine do not go off once they have been opened.

    I only sterilise Le Parfait jars or bottles that have been used to contain something else. Just to be on the safe side.

    With wine making it’s a completely different story and every bit of equipment has to be sterilised.

    So depending on what bottles you used, you are probably OK. It is probably a wise move to sterilise all bottles before use, just in case.

  2. Hi, i’ve just made sloe gin but didnt sterilise the bottle! Will it keep ok or do i have throw it away? Maggs

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Some friends put sweet plums in a large jar and cover with brandy and a dessertspoonful of sugar to start them off. After a year or so they strain off the liquor to mature and serve the plums as a topping for ice cream. It takes about two more years before the brandy tastes really good. Worth the wait.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sam,

    You need to be a bit careful with blackberry gin, whisky and vodka. If you leave the blackberries in too long they impart their woodiness to the grog. Three months is tops for infusing.

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks for the tip about the vinegar jars. We use Le Parfait jars but the initial outlay is big. Your recycling idea is much better.

    Have you tried damson sherry with the left over damsons. The method is the same as sloe sherry. Our recipe is here http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/?p=104
    Lethal, wonderful stuff!

    Hi Pete,

    Your festive spirit sounds wonderful. May have to give it a go before you report back. Thanks for sharing.

    Hi Don and Julie,

    I do hope that you win. If not, the grog is pretty good for drowning your sorrows. Taste it each month and adjust. Don’t forget to note your adjustments for next time.

    Hi Irene,

    Your recipe has my mouth watering. Thanks so much for posting the strawberry vodka recipe.

    Hi Debbie,

    I hope that both our recipes work well for you. There is nothing like foraging for fruit and making delicious preserves and grog.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  5. The plums that Pat (Thornton) describes as:
    “It starts off a kind of apricot yellow colour in May when it™s edible but not sweet, by June it turns pinkish yellow and getting sweeter, if left until July it turns a deep red colour and is almost like eating sugar. ” …is probably the mirabelle plum – a classic north French plum, particularly around Metz, – long ago they were very common in UK, but now you only find them self-seeded in the hedgerow – I have a local tree here in S. Yorkshire. Best for eating and jam making (if you can resist not eating them all), and in Metz they make a brandy with it (but I don’t have the receipes.)

    I am really happy to have found this site. Might try making a elderberry gin myself – there is a great crop of elderberry locally.

    Ray

  6. Hi Irene

    Many thanks for the recipe for the straberry vodka I will get on to making some straight away.
    hopfully should just be ready in time for christmas so i can give my mum a bottle as a prestent she really likes it.
    So i will let you now how i have get on.

    Dany thanks Darren

  7. Well after walking the dog and searching on the net as to what is growing around the fields near me i discovered there are damsons and sloes a plenty.
    Yesterday we picked the damsons and i have two jars of Damson vodka on the go now and im just simmering another 2 lbs for the damson cheese.
    Cant wait to see how that turns out hope i get it right. Will be making Sloe gin next month when they are ready for picking.
    Thanks for the recipes :o)

  8. Hey Darren,
    You were asking about Strawbery liqueur. It’s yummy and I’ve used blackberries in place of strawberries and also raspberries and it works well with either.
    Hull enough perfect strawberries to fill a preserving jar or wide necked bottle. Prick each berry a few times with a cocktail stick and pop into jar or bottle. Add caster sugar to come about a third of the way up the jar and top up with vodka. Seal and keep in a cool dark spot for 3 to 6 months. Strain thru muslin and re-bottle. ENJOY!!

  9. Don and Julie

    Hi folks

    We have just used you recipe with the hint of almond to start this years batch. We are amongst a group of nine neighbours all making a bottle each which will be judged at the festive season; the only rules are that we have to use a supermarket brand gin, 500g of our next door neighbours damsons and cannot substitute with our previous years efforts ( not that there is much left of that!).The winners receive a fabulous prize ,of course!

  10. Great to discover so many fellow foragers and fruit infusers! I’ve already made up two batches of damson gin (some bought, some wild (not telling where – most not quite ready yet!). I have also tried a small batch of elderberry gin and am grateful for the tip about extra sugar – thanks.

    This year’s grand experiment: ‘FESTIVE SPIRIT’ – 75cl wild damson, elderberry and blackberry gin, infused with a little orange zest, cinnamon and half a clove (easy does it). Will let you know…

    I use the cheap Ikea jars and they’re fine, but be warned: you may need to use two seals in order to get a full liquid seal. Also, they are not as robust as the French jars and the tops can chip – fortunately this has not happened to me with a full jar of matured gin…

    Finally, I made a trial batch of damson vodka in 2006 and it was beautiful – had a hint of almonds in it and was very mellow after 3 months. Will be adding it to the repertoire from now on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,225,114 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments


Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder


HG