Looking just as rich and luscious as it tastes, your
damson vodka could be ready for Christmas
2013 has been a bumper year for damsons.
A hot summer, with just enough rain to swell the fruit is best for damsons and results in branches that are groaning under the weight of all that fruit
And while you can of course make damson jam, damson cheese, damson chutney and damson sauce, there is nothing quite like damson vodka.
Decanted into decorative bottles this rich, syrupy liquor makes a perfect Christmas gift – and if you hurry, you might just be in time for this year's festivities. Give this a go, and we're sure that your friends and family will be glad you did!
If you already have your damson harvest, great – if not, hopefully you will find some still on the trees. Failing that, try your local orchard or farm shop! So grab a bag and get picking.
And if you have room in the freezer, even better – freezing them will split the skins and add to the end result.
Strangely sweet and sour at the same time, the level of sugar required to match these oval fruits will depend on your particular batch, so make sure you taste a few as you go to 'gage' (haha!) their sweetness.
You will need
- 1 clean, sterilised glass 1 gallon (4.5 litre) demijohn with cork (plastic or cork is fine)
- 2 to 2.5kg damsons, washed
- 400g granulated sugar (you can always add more later)
- 3 x 75cl bottles vodka (we used Vladivar)
Freshly picked damsons, washed and ready to bottle
- If using fresh damsons, prick them with a skewer as you fill up your demijohn. If you have frozen them you don't need to worry about this step.
- Fill your demijohn to just over half full of damsons (you can freeze any leftovers until next year or make another batch).
- Pour in the sugar.
- Top with the vodka.
- Now seal and store in a cool dark place, tipping up on its head every day for a week to disturb it until the sugar has dissolved.
- After one month taste a drop to see whether you think you need to add more sugar. Add more if required and disturb each day until dissolved again.
- This can be strained and bottled after 2–3 months to give as Christmas presents, but if you can resist it will be worth the wait if you save it until next year!
Some more ideas
Damsons in vodka... nicely soaked!
- You can also make this with gin, but we think the clean flavour of vodka allows the damsons to really shine.
- It really is worth buying good vodka that you wouldn't mind drinking with tonic.
- Try adding sherry to the fruit once you have strained the vodka – but do leave for a couple of months to develop.
- You can buy nice decorative bottles at most kitchen shops, or keep interesting bottles and reuse them (sterilised, of course). Finish off with some pretty ribbon around the neck for the perfect Christmas gift!
PS – 'foodie hampers' proved to be fantastic presents for friends and family last year, which included a bottle of this damson vodka, as well as some nice cheese, homemade chutney (great way to use up apples or leftover damsons) and some homemade biscuits.
Needless to say, they were very happy!
As ever, if you give any recipe a go, please do write back and tell us all about it.