As with Damsons, Sloes are also in season around now. However they are better collected after the first frost. This is because the cold helps break down some of the flesh inside, thus releasing the flavour and colour into the liquor better.
As with the Damson Vodka it feels awesome to be able to use cheap, nasty, alcohol and make it taste amazing for little effort.
- 3 bottles of cheap gin (70cl), yea going mass production for this bad boy
- 600g caster sugar
- 600g sloes
- 6 empty bottles, sterilized
Split the 3 bottles of gin between the empty bottles. Prick or slice the sloes with a sharp knife and drop them into the gin. Then add the sugar. Simple. The easiest way to get the sugar into the bottles is with a funnel - either pre-bought plastic or just some staples cardboard.
As with the Damson vodka, wait at least 3 months before drinking and make sure you swirl the liquid from time to time to make sure all the sugar dissolves. Once it looks ready to drink, sieve off the liquid but keep the sloes. Keep the container out of the light while brewing if you wish to keep the sloes’ colour.
Blackberry Brandy (makes a 70cl bottle)
Amazing for cocktail making, this extremely simple to make liquor adds an amazing flavour to any other alcohol and is the perfect thing to drink on cold winter nights.
- 1 small bottle of brandy (35cl)
- 180g sugar
- 200g blackberries
- empty 70cl bottle, sterilized
Pour the brandy into the larger bottle, add the sugar and the blackberries and leave to mature in a cool dark place. Its literally that simple. The longer you leave it the more the flavours will merge so its really up to individual tastes how long you leave it.
In the future we will be adding some specific cocktails that this liquor is delicious in once our blackberry brandy has matured and is ready to drink.
Damsons are in season at this time of year and what could be nicer for these slightly acidic fruits than to be made into tasty alcohol. Now the standard alcohol to use with damsons is gin. However I feel that gin goes much better with sloes (recipe coming soon) and so with the damsons I will be using vodka.
The great thing about making liqueur’s such as this is that you get to use the cheapest, nastiest, own brand vodka and turn it into something tasty with little effort.
- 1 bottle of cheap vodka (70cl)
- 450g caster sugar
- 450g damsons
Pour the vodka into a demijohn or other suitable receptacle. Prick or slice the damsons with a sharp knife (careful now!!) and drop them into the vodka. Then add the sugar. Simple as that.
Wait at least 3 months before drinking, although some recommend up to and exceeding a year - I however am not that patient. Make sure you swirl the liquid from time to time to make sure all the sugar dissolves. Once you think it is ready to drink, sieve off the liquid but retain the damsons (I will show you what to do with them once my damson vodka is ready and I have the alcoholic damsons to use. Watch this space). Keep the container out of the light while brewing if you wish to retain the lovely colour of the damsons.
Hopefully mine will be ready for this Christmas and I can show you guys some awesome alcoholic puddings with the leftover damsons (no waste here).
Elder tree’s are everywhere! It seems a shame not to make use of their massive availability and while you can make pies and syrups from the berries I find a much better option is to make wine out of them. If you get a few mates together it is more than possible to make over 5 gallons in a season. This year there were 2 of us collecting, stripping the berries from the stems and brewing and we managed to easily make 4 gallons in a weekend.
For 4 gallons-
- 3 gallons/14 litres of water (we used gallons as it had it on the side of our brewing bucket)
- 4300g sugar
- 350g raisins
- as many elderberries as you can find - the higher the amount the more concentrated the flavour (we used around large freezer bags full)
- Brewers yeast - placed in lukewarm water with some sugar to start their growth
First after collecting the elderberries comes the tedious task of stripping them from the stalks. I have found the best way to do that is with a big bowl and a fork. Just scrape the fork down the stalks and it should bring the berries off nice and easy. You just have to do it a lot. Avoid any green berries as they may spoil the taste of the wine.
Find as big a saucepan as you can, fill it full of the water and elderberries and boil for about 30 minutes with the lid on. This can be done in smaller pans - just split the berries evenly between them. The liquid should have turned a nice dark purple. Strain off the berries through a muslin cloth and pour the remaining dark liquid into 4 demijohns and add the sugar and raisins evenly between them. Once the liquid has cooled add the yeast water evenly between the containers. Fit fermentation locks with sterile water in to the tops and place in a cool dark place.
Keep like this for at least 3 months if not more. The longer you leave it the more the flavour will develop. Hopefully it should taste like a nice port. Mine certainly taste delicious and have fooled some friends that it is expensive port. All for a little effort and around £3 per gallon.