If you gather blackberries from hedgerows in the autumn, or if you have a bountiful harvest of raspberries or other fruits, turn some of the crop into fruity flavoured alcoholic drinks. Use gin or vodka with the highest proof content to get the best preserving results. These wonderfully warming drinks take three and a half months to mature, and then continue to improve in flavour.
Alcohol is a preservative – nothing can grow in pure alcohol – and when fruits are soaked in it, the alcohol absorbs their flavour to give a fruity taste and colour. Use ripe produce for the best quality and flavour and freeze the fruits until needed. Frozen fruit provides excellent results: the freezing process ruptures the fruit skins and allows the juices to flow out.
|700ml (11⁄4 pints)||bottle of gin|
|400g (14oz)||raspberries, fresh or frozen|
|250g (9oz)||caster sugar|
|A few||cloves (optional)|
|1 stick||of cinnamon (optional)|
|A few drops||of almond essence (optional)|
You will need: 1 large, wide-necked jar, sterilized, or 2 empty gin bottles, a funnel.
Pour the gin, fruit, sugar, spices, and almond essence into the sterilized jar, or divide the ingredients equally between two bottles using a funnel (there’s no need to sterilize a vodka or gin bottle if the alcohol has just been poured out of it). Seal and store in a cool, dark place. Give the jar or bottles a shake daily for the rest two weeks and then weekly for a further three months. During this time the sugar dissolves and the liquid takes on a luscious red colour. Take a sip every now and then and add more sugar if needed. After three and a half months, or when the taste is to your liking, strain the ingredients, and re-bottle the liquid only.
You will need: 1 large, wide-necked jar, sterilized, or 2 empty gin bottles