I am well and truly getting into the Christmas spirit.
Work are having a Christmas fundraiser for a local hospice (a great charity - they looked after D a year ago) and asked for donations, so I thought that instead of sticking in the obligatory bottle of wine and some chocolates to do something a bit different.
I have a few bottles of homemade blackberry vodka chez moi so I thought I'd put them in some nice glass bottles, put on some pretty labels and send in a few bottles for the fundraiser. Of course, it would be a devastating shame to put them in if they weren't ready for drinking or tasted horrible so a little bit of a tasting was called for .. *hic* ... as it happens, they turned out rather well and I'm really quite pleased.
We have a humdinger of a family recipe for sloe gin, which can be adapted to accommodate any liquor and any fruit. Here's the recipe as passed down to me from D:
- Get about 1 1/2 - 2lb of sloes. The more the better, but for 2 litres of hooch 2lb will do. (Sloes are the fruit of the Blackthorn, and are in the hedgerows in Autumn. Verybitter so don't eat straight off the bush)
- White sugar, about 1/2 the weight of the sloes.
- Gin. Lashings of it, as cheap as you like, provided that it IS gin!
- Empty 2L bottle (Coke, Lemonade etc) Can you guess that I never weigh anything? I simply use my eyes.
- Wash the sloes, and either sit in front of the TV with a little paring knife and slit the skins or just put the fruit in the freezer. This will split the skins for you and save you some trouble.
- Place split fruit in bottle. Add sugar. Add gin to near the top. Close bottle and place in dark cupboard.
- Take it out once a week and shake it.
- Three months later taste it, just to reassure yourself. Add a little more sugar if you want to. (I have never done so.) Continue to leave it in the cupboard, and to shake it once a week. (Yes, for a year if necessary!)
- There are those who serve their sloe gin after 3-4 months. I am not one of them, believing that it improves with age in a dark place. I never produce it before 12 months, although I do admit to reassuring myself just occasionally.
So far, I have some sloe gin, blackberry vodka, blueberry vodka and blueberry gin. I have plans to expand but I'm currently experimenting and I'll let you know how it goes. Until then ... seasons greetings and all that.