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. Pauline Chapman

    Hi Fiona,

    I have just started a batch of your Raspberry Vodka. Next in line are Rhubarb and Custard Vodka (rhubarb + vanilla), Banoffee Vodka (bananas and Werther’s Original) and Coconut Rum. Thanks for the inspiration.

    (p.s. If you ever have any spare morello cherry saplings then I would really love to take one.)

  2. Cherry gin mmm…. do you not prick the cherry as people do with sloe’s ??

  3. Michelle F

    …Apologies, I have just read further back and found your answer. Looking forward to making cherry wine as well this year.

    Many thanks again,


  4. Michelle F


    I made some Morello Cherry Gin last year – which is divine – but it still has all the fruit plus stones in the bottom of the Kilner Jar. Should I be straining it off now as I read somewhere that the drupes/stones are can contain a leech a cyanogenic compound if damaged?

    Many thanks for your help,

  5. Jjt363

    I made some cherry brandy after reading your comment last year and left it until just last week to bottle. Had a little taster and OH BOY, is it delicious or what?!!! Our cherry tree has let us down big time this year though, no cherries whatsoever but I’ll be buying some at the market even though they are €7 a kilo.

  6. Hello! I made some cherry gin last year (leaving the stones in) and have since read that the stones can be a source of cyanide!
    Does anyone know if this is likely to be a problem?
    Many thanks!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Arran

      The amount of cyanide is negligible so there’s no need to worry at all!

  7. Elizabeth L

    Elizabeth, I thought I had written a comment in my sleep! I am also Elizabeth and only a couple a days ago posted a comment asking for cherry gin recipes as I buy them most days from my local Chapel Market! I’m glad I’m not alone in my secret addiction! In the meantime I took a guess and have just started a batch using 250gms of market bought cherries and 200gms of sugar, I did, however remove the stones which may have been a mistake. However, I’ll wait and see since I’m not going to waste a bottle of Sainsburys gin.

  8. Elizabeth

    I love the idea of cherry gin – during the summer I can’t resist buying cherries nearly every day from
    my local Chapel Market in London. Perhaps making them into gin or vodka(or brandy or anything else)will stop me feeling permanemtly bloated! So, do I use much the same method with blackheart cherries, which seem to be most popular here?

  9. Hello, I found this site whilst looking for ideas for the 10lbs cherries I just found in the freezer.

    I’m replying because some of you might be interested in my potentially bad news. Growing a cherry tree from a cherry stone does NOT produce the same tree. It might be similar, but it is different. Just like if you have a child, it is not identical to you. A true morrello would bea clone of another morello, ie taken as a cutting from the original tree and grafted on to an existing rootstock. The trees you have propagated from what the birds have left will be ‘Morrello seedlings’. They might taste similar, different, better, worse. You won’t know until it fruits, you might be dissapointed.

    A safer option would be to buy a real one.

    The same goes for other fruits like apple trees and pairs.



  10. debby

    As well as fruit vodkas you can also do the same with spices my favourite is a ginger vodka. A good 2 inch piece of root ginger peeled and ove recipegrated then proceed as per the ab

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