The Cottage Smallholder

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Easy Morello Gin recipe. Fruit liqueurs.

Ripening Morello cherries in our garden

Ripening Morello cherries in our garden

Fresh Morello cherries are quite hard to find in the UK unless you grow them yourself. We have two Morello cherry trees that I bought for 99p each from Netto a few years ago. One was supposed to be an ordinary cherry tree but clearly there had been a mix up of labels at the warehouse and we ended up with two Morellos. I was disappointed initially until I twigged that Morello cherries are the stars of cherry society.

Their deep sour flavour is their saving grace – loads of opportunities in a wide range of dishes – from sweet to savoury. Morello cheries make excellent sauces, mixed crumbles, jam, jellies and of course an exceptional liqueur.

Unlike sloe gin, homemade Morello cherry liqueur is a very rare treat as so few people grow the trees. Sometimes you can find frozen Morello Cherries in supermarkets – these will work in this liqueur too. But fresh Morello cherries would be the choice of a connoisseur.

The other bonus of investing in a Morello cherry tree is that it will happily grow on a north wall or shadier spot than the average sun loving fruit tree. Cherry blossom will lift your heart in the spring. The cherry harvest starts around late June in East Anglia – the berries are ripe when they are dark red like the ones in the far right of the photo. If you cannot decide how to use your crop Morello cherries freeze well.

Beware most birds adore Morello cherries too. So you need to keep your tree fairly small – pruning each year and creating a fan or horizontal structure.  Net your tree for at least a month before harvesting. We generally leave the Morello cherry in the front garden for bird banquets as our other tree lives inside a large fruit cage in the Kitchen Garden.

The bird fests and discarded stones have propagated three baby Morello trees. These are just sticks at the moment but within a few years these trees will bear fruit. I’ll happily post a Morello cherry stick to the first three UK people who leave a comment below specifically requesting a baby tree.
Morello Cherry Gin/Liqueur
• 454gm of washed Morello cherries (including stones)
• 100g of white granulated sugar
• 75cl bottle of medium quality gin
• Sterilised 1 litre (at least) Le Parfait jar or wide necked bottle

• Wash Morello cherries well and discard stems and any bruised or rotten fruit. Place cherries in either a large Kilner/Le Parfait jar or a wide necked 1 litre bottle.
• 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.
• 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).
• 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 six months. Don’t leave the straining process any longer than this as old fruit can ruin the flavour. At this stage you can add more sugar if you’d like a sweeter tipple.
• The longer that the cherry liqueur matures the better it will be. Why not make a bit more to lay down for the future? Finally this year we will have enough to do this.


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  1. After 3 months can you use the cherries for cake?

  2. Audrey Bates

    Wow I just found this recipe wish I’d been one of the first 3
    I love these cherries ? I make smoothies with the frozen cherries and would love be to grow my own tree but I’m in the north of Scotland so don’t know how they would cope with the weather
    I’m going out today to make some cherry gin ??

    How did you make the rhubarb and Ginger gin plz
    Do you have a recipe ?

  3. Wendy Ward

    Please can you tell me if it is possible to make limoncello with gin? I hsve tried searching for a recipe but they all use vodka and I brought a bottle of gin back from a holiday in France. Many thanks.

    • Danny Carey

      Yes, Wendy.
      Just do a Google search for:
      make limoncello with gin

  4. I just found this blog after Googling for morello cherries, having bought some before Christmas at Aldi (they tend to stock big jars just before Christmas each year in their ‘special offer’ aisles, but I was looking to buy some more).

    I wanted to share this recipe idea, which might be a good way to use up some of the left over fruit from your cherry gin liqueur. (Although the cherries would need to be stoned.)

    Buy some little foil bon bon cases, from somewhere like Clas Ohlsen or I think Lakeland also sell them. And some dark chocolate. They’d sold out of cooking chocolate at Aldi, so I just bought their regular inexpensive dark chocolate.

    * Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl in a pan of hot water.

    * Using a teaspoon, pour some into the bon bon case and swirl it round to coat the sides and so you have a good coating of the base. Put them on a plate or in a tupperware tub and put them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes or so to set.

    * Then put a nice cherry in the chocolate coated bon bon case and spoon more melted chocolate over the top and round the sides.

    [NB: In my case, I had bought two big jars of de-stoned morello cherries from Aldi before Christmas, poured out the juice, replaced it with a bottle of cherry vodka and left them to steep for a few weeks.]

    * Then put back in the freezer or fridge to set.

    * You can also decorate them with some pink edible glitter or something, to make them more pretty, if you so wish.

    And that’s it. Takes around an hour or so, depending on how many you’re making in your first batch.

    And when you bite through the hard, crisp shell of delicious dark chocolate and get an explosion of boozy cherry flavour, it’s amazing.

    I just made my first experimental batch and gave some to a friend for her birthday, and she told she’s stealing my idea to make some for Christmas presents next year.

    Bon appetit!

  5. Thanks for this just done it but froze the cherries for 24hrs and then defrosted in the fridge of for 36hrs until juice started to run. 1st time I’ve used cherries. I’ve also made Sloe Gin, Sloe Whisky, Raspberry Vodka, Blackcurrent Gin, Rhubard, Ginger and Orange Vodka, Blackberry and Plum Gin, Tayberry Gin and a few others.

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