Sloe gin and damson gin

Sloe gin and damson gin - thrifty gifts and handmade gifts

If you’ve never tried making your own homemade fruit gin or vodka you’ve been missing out on a real treat!  These are fantastic handmade gifts that are really simple to make.  They make great thrifty gifts if you’re on a budget – you can forage for your own sloes, damsons or other fruit, and with a cheap bottle of gin or vodka turn them into a rich luscious tipple that will be eagerly received as a gift – that is if you can bear to give it away and don’t drink it all yourself!

The best known, of course, is damson gin or sloe gin, and if you have a supply of damsons I’m sure you’ll end up making this every year!


Damson gin or sloe gin – the basic recipe

You’ll need the following:  1 litre bottle of gin (you don’t need an expensive brand), 500 g damsons or sloes and 200g caster sugar.

To prepare your fruit, just wash it, and then either prick it all over with a fork or skewer or, if you have the energy, halve and stone it.  I’ve tried both methods and it doesn’t seem to make much difference – you just need to allow all that lovely juice soak out into the gin.

Then mix the fruit and sugar with the gin. I have 2 large kilner jars that I use every year, but any large bottles, preferably with a wide-ish neck to make filling easier, will do fine.  Give the whole lot a good shake, put it somewhere dark and cool, and simply leave it for a few months to steep, and hey presto!

You should give it a good shake daily for a few days, until all the sugar is dissolved, then occasionally thereafter, whenever you remember.  I make mine in August/September when the damsons are ripe, and it’s ready in time for Christmas.  The quantities of sugar vary in all the different recipes that I’ve come across, but it’s a matter of taste and this is what works for me.

When you’re ready to bottle the gin, strain it (through muslin for a sparkling clear liqueur) into smaller bottles, label, and decorate with ribbon if you like.



Variations are endless.  Use either gin or vodka, or brandy if you’re after something a little different.  Pick whatever fruits you fancy, and you’ll soon find a favourite. Plums and cherries go well with brandy,   I did a raspberry and cranberry vodka a couple of years ago that was very popular.  Do let me know your own special combinations!


The finishing touches

Make sure you keep any interesting or unusual bottles that you come across during the year, and then fill with your chosen tipple, add handwritten tags or labels, and ribbon if you’re feeling frivolous, and you’ve got some great thrifty gifts that will be enthusiastically received as a birthday, Christmas or housewarming present.


You might find these useful:

kilner preserving jars

kilner jars

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