Sunday, 14 September 2014

Specials Board: Damson Gin - Ready for Christmas!

Damson Gin & Vegan Mofo Day 14
The other day whilst out walking with Marco, I came across a secret sloe berry hideaway, purely by chance. Marco was off sniffing something and after following him through a small wood which was pretty rough underfoot in places I came across a beautiful sloe tree full of lovely sloe berries. Straight away I thought no-one else knows about this! There was no footprints or trails through the undergrowth to suggest someone had been there before. My luck was in! After a closer inspection I thought the sloe berries needed another week or so on the bush, they were a little on the small side and they didn't quite yield when the berry was lightly squeezed like they would if they were fully ripe. They are early this year, you normally have to wait until October or after the first frost. If the sloe tree was in a place where people would walk past I would have picked the berries but as I had found it purely by accident and there was no sign that someone had been there before I decided to leave them and come back in a week or so. 


I've since been back, I even drew myself a little map so I could find them again and I was devastated to find that the tree had been stripped bare! I could have cried, even Marco picked up on my disappointment. There wasn't a single berry left on the tree, not even near the top. Whoever had found the tree after I had, hadn't picked to the foraging code, you never ever strip a tree, bush or even an area of its produce. You should only take a small amount for your own consumption. I was heartbroken, full stop, and I could have kicked myself for not taking just a few when I first found it.

Thankfully I had managed to get some damsons on an earlier visit to the community orchard where my parents live. So instead of making Sloe Gin I have made Damson Gin. I've made Damson Gin for quite a few years as I am lucky enough to have a friend with 3 damson trees who is more than happy to give me some big bags of damsons and in return I make her some jam. If you make this now it'll just be at its peak for drinking at Christmas, and it makes an excellent Christmas present.

520g Damsons
130g Granulated sugar
1 Litre Gin

As soon as you pick your damsons, wash and dry them and freeze straight away. Freezing the damsons saves you the mammoth task of pricking each fruit so it releases the juice into the gin. Its a massive time saver and I thoroughly recommend it. Its the first year I have done this as I've only just bought a freezer, but I really don't know how I managed without it before. When I've pricked each damson in the past it has taken me hours!

On the day you decide to make the Gin, remove the damsons from the freezer and defrost. As they defrost you will notice that the bowl you are defrosting them in starts to show some of that lovely pink juice.

Once the damsons have defrosted, add a few damsons to a large kilner jar that you have sterilised. Top with some sugar and repeat until all the damsons and sugar have been used.

Top the mixture with gin, fasten the top and shake so that the sugar starts to dissolve. For the first day keep shaking the gin every couple of hours or so, then shake once every day for the first week. By the end of the first week all the sugar should have dissolved, but don't worry if you can still see some, keep shaking once a day. 

For the next 4 weeks turn the jar upside down and back upright every morning. Keep the jar in a cool dark place for up to 3 months. Then strain into sterilised bottles and seal.

If you make this now it'll be a great tipple for Christmas!

Layer the damsons and sugar
Add the Gin!
Damsons bathing in Gin
A Christmas Tipple


  1. This sounds lovely. Do you think the same quantities would work for any type of fruit?

    1. I don't like my liquors too sweet, but if you are using a sour fruit like a sour plum or a tart fruit like some raspberries I would increase the sugar. After you've made it you can always add a sugar syrup to sweeten it up if its not sweet enough for you. Most fruits will work although I had a massive fail with pineapple vodka! LOL. Raspberry vodka is lovely too. Have fun! :o)


Thanks for leaving a comment, Jasmine x