JP McMahon: If you like sloe gin, you should try making this damson gin

Seasonal liqueurs are a great way to make the most of all the stone fruit in shops and on trees

The easiest way to remember how much gin or fruit to use is to keep to a ratio of 2:1. That’s two parts gin to one part fruit

The easiest way to remember how much gin or fruit to use is to keep to a ratio of 2:1. That’s two parts gin to one part fruit

 

While all of us, or at least most of us, now know that sloe gin is made by infusing sloe berries with gin for three months, it’s time to move on to our next seasonal gin liqueur: namely, damson gin.

This one is also an ancient Irish gin (and by ancient, I mean the last couple of hundred years) made by infusing damson fruit, a native wild plum, with your favourite gin. Wild liqueurs are a fun way to explore the autumn with all the stone fruit that is in the shops and on the trees. Whiskey and crab apples? Rowan berry rum? The possibilities are endless. As well as making fruit liqueurs, at my restaurant we also make unusual vegetable and nut liqueurs, such as smoked celeriac whiskey.

How to make damson gin

The easiest way to remember how much gin or fruit to use is to keep to a ratio of 2:1. That’s two parts gin to one part fruit. So take 500g of washed damsons (or regular plums if you can’t source damsons). Place the damsons in a container or a bucket and cover with one litre of gin (or rum which is also good).

Now comes the hard part. You have to wait at least three months to allow the flavours to develop. By all means, taste each week (around breakfast time) to see how the flavour develops. Many recipes add sugar to the mix at the beginning, usually half the volume of fruit. However, through experience, I have learned to go without the sugar until the end as the resulting liqueur is often too sweet.

At the end of the process, just add a little simple syrup to taste. Not adding sugar also reduces the volume of the liquid so it is easier to store, also without the risk of refermenting.

If you happen to get a glut of damsons, you can always just make a damson and gin jam. For 2kg of fruit, use 2kg of sugar and 200ml of gin. Boil until 105 degrees Celsius and then allow to cool.

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