On Saturday, we took a trip to the farmers market in the sweet September sunshine. The stalls were laden down with glorious late summer bounty: crisp local apples, plump purple plums, ears of golden corn and bunches of cosmos and dahlias. I couldn’t resist a paper bag full of homegrown damsons: small and firm with an ebony gloss. I toyed with the idea of jamming them, but I have some already stashed away in my freezer, from my mother-in-law’s tree. This fresh bag called out to the bottle of gin in my cupboard- time to make a fruit liqueur for sipping when the cold winter evenings make their inevitable appearance.
I haven’t made Damson Gin before, but I make an annual batch of Sloe Gin, and the recipe is exactly the same. Prior to the first frost, which gets their juices flowing, damsons (or sloes) need to be pricked with a skewer before bottling. This, a meditative process, is the only work involved, the rest of the recipe takes a matter of moments… followed by several weeks resting to infuse the gin with the damson’s flavour, and glorious colour.
450g granulated sugar
Prick each damson several times with a skewer or cocktail stick and place in a clean kilner jar. Pour over the sugar, followed by the gin.
Shake to mix. Shake regularly for the next week or so to dissolve the sugar, then leave for 8-10 weeks, shaking occasionally.
Pass the mixture through a fine sieve and pour the strained liqueur into bottles.
(The damsons can be stoned and served with ice cream as a boozy pudding!)
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