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Damson Gin – Norfolk Slow Food

Saturday afternoon saw us all out with an ever-growing pile of jumpers and tops on the freshly turned earth as the weather got warmer and we collected bags and boxes of sloes, damsons and blackberries – we even got some elderberries and hawthorns. Naturally we followed the law of the land pick no more than you need, leave some for the wild life and leave nothing but your footprints.

Our top tip for our Damson Gin – Norfolk Slow Food – Leave it to mature!!!

That’s the main instruction for making your own tonics for a cold winters night…. If you are a fan of slow food and Damson Gin read on .
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There are various damson gin recipes, but the basics are the same. Some people prefer a much sweeter, more syrupy damson gin and add more sugar. I prefer the recipe below. Use good quality damsons, discard any bashed or bruised fruit and dicard the little stalks.

There are 2 methods of releasing the juice, you can either prick the skins a couple of time with a skewer/knife/cocktail stick or freeze and thaw then use – we’re fans of the latter. There’s a theory, certainly with sloes that they become sweeter or denser in flavour once you’ve had a frost (or freeze). Make sure you have sterilised your jar properly. After weighing, place the damson fruit into the jar, add the sugar and then the gin. Simples.

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Give the jar a swirl every day until the sugar has fully dissolved. Cover the jar or place in a dark place – this will help keep the colour of the damsons, and give your damson gin a wonderful rich colour. Leave it for a minimum of three to four months, testing every month or so to see if a little more sugar is required. This wonderful damson gin concoction can be kept for almost a year, much longer than that and the fruit will disintegrate too much and spoil the taste of the liqueur. By Christmas the damson gin will be superb, and ready to savour with friends. Sample the damson gin from your jar now and then, when you are happy with the result, strain through a muslin cloth and re-bottle the damson gin. To be honest it’s pretty easy, your damson gin will be naturally clear and a beautiful rich colour.

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What do you do with the damsons after bottling? Try a decadently rich Damson Crumble, some people even boil up into jams or preserves, but for me, I’m just delighted to sample the Damson Gin!

INGREDIENTS FOR DAMSON GIN

550g of fresh damsons
250g of granulated sugar
1L of gin

  1. Tip the fruit into a clean, sterilized jar with a wide neck – youll have trouble stuffing them into a very narrow-necked bottle. Pour in the sugar and top up with the gin.2. Seal and shake to encourage the sugar to start dissolving, then turn gently every few days for between 8 and 12 weeks before drinking.

Wise Woman Alert! Keep your empty gin bottle –  there’s nothing worse than scrambling around for a bottle when you’re are ready to strain and decant!

If you are going to keep the damson gin for more than 3 months, strain off the damsons. Don’t discard the used damsons: remove the stones, chop, and stew them with sugar for use in sweet pies, spoon over ice cream or add them to a fresh lot for an extra kick to jam or jelly. Most of the alcohol in the gin-soaked fruit will cook off, but some gin flavour will linger.

Try serving a small shot of damson gin with full-flavoured hard cheeses such as a tangy cheddar.

MMM-Mmmm bottoms up!