Damsons (not in distress…)

05/09/2011

DamsonsLondon is feeling decidedly autumnal this week and that puts one in mind of all the delicious treats that have been ripening and readying themselves for harvest. Of most particular interest to me are damsons and sloes, for these sweet amethyst-coloured jewels are the flavouring for my favourite winter tipple; Damson Gin.

It couldn’t be easier to make… but first of all you have to track down some damsons. They are not all that common but luckily for me a friend has them growing in her garden near Lake Windermere completely organically and watered by nature so no energy or chemically intensive processes involved! One needs to apply a rule of two thirds damsons, washed and de-stalked to one third white sugar, placed into a jar with a tightly sealing lid, and topped up to the brim with gin. Leave the remaining soup to steep, shaking the jar (s) occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves. After three months, it is ready to enjoy. Strain, bottle and share!

One tip I was given to make the process of steeping the fruits easier is to freeze them, which causes the ripened fruit’s skins to burst and therefore negates the need to prick each fruit individually to break the skins. Also, once strained at the end of the steeping process, one can apparently dry the remaining fruits in the oven and add them to cakes and other festive bakings… although I personally haven’t tried that yet.

Without wanting to wish the coming weeks away, I am SO looking forward to opening the results of our brief labours to enjoy a taste which reminds me instantly of festive celebrations and the excitements which await us.

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