My goodness, what a weekend I’ve had! It’s been wonderfully manic.
Speaking of wonderful, I have made Sloe Gin and Elderberry Vodka – and very excited about them I am too. So excited in fact, that I couldn’t wait untill I’d tasted them to tell you how I made them. (And what would be the point? By the time christmas comes around all of the sloes will be gone and you’ll have to wait a whole YEAR to make this wonder of wonders and delight of deliciousness.) Ahem… Anyway, so as I was saying, if you want to wait how my batch turnes out before you try these recipes you could simply pick the Sloes and Elderberries now, freeze them, – which wonderfully saves you having to do the arduous pricking I explain later by splitting the skins for you – and make this in the new year. Then you can drink these beauties next winter; which is actually a rather good idea as they only get better with age.
I do apologise for all my rambling, only the thought of these treats has me a little exciteable. You see, I’m trying to make both for the first time. I love Sloe Gin; it’s delicious and wonderful and just what you need in the depths of winter. However it’s the Elderberry Vodka that I am really looking forewards to tasting. My Czech grandmother makes a medicinal liquer from the berries which is delicious enough to make me happy to have a cold. I have been known on occasion to even FAKE a cold (I’m a terrible person, I know) to get this delightful drink into contact with my tastebuds. The elderberry liquer of my childhood is sweet, and sticky, and earthy and round and warm despite being served at room temperature on a tablespoon. It’s what medicine SHOULD taste like. And to boot, it’s super high in antioxidants. Drinking it should be mandatory.
I suspect that the alcohol my Grandmother uses to make this is the ledgendary Slivovic (Fire water, according to Dad). With a dire shortage of the stuff in the UK, I had to settle for plain Vodka, and hope it worked the same. In the absense of a recipe for either of these drinks, I also had to sort of ‘wing it’, researching the recipes on the internet first, and then making
random informed decisions as I went along.
The process for both drinks is exactly the same and entirely interchangeable, so I’m presenting them together:
- Pick berries of you choice.
- Buy liquer of your choice. (Gin and Vodka seem popular)
- Remove berries from any remaining stems and ensure they are clean.
- Decant about 1/4 of the liquer from your bottle into another container. (You could make this container a ‘humble jumble lets see what happens if we mix all the leftovers pot’ like I have, or you could drink the excess…)
- If using sloes, you either freeze them overnight to split the skins, or prick them all over to the same effect, If using any other berry (use your judgement here; if you’re using plums or gooseberries for example I suspect you’d have to split their skins too) then just use as they are.
- Add the berries to your liquer (or if using fancy pants jars or mason jars, add the berries first and then cover with liquer) till they fill about 1/3 of the bottle. Leave room at the top of the bottle, as you need room to shake the contents and add syrup in a few months time.
- Pop the lids back on (I disenfected mine in boiling water first), and leave somewhere dark for at least 2 – 3 months, shaking every day or so.
- After 2 – 3 months, open your bottles and strain out the berries, returning the liquid to the bottles.
- Make a syrup with equal parts sugar and water to taste in a pan. Cool slightly and then pour through a funnel into the bottle and shake well. Taste and adjust
- Leave for another week before tasting, just to be certain. No one will blame you if the entire contents of the bottle vanish over the course of that evening….
I’ll update you around christmas time as to how this has turned out.