montjoye: (Default)
( Jan. 29th, 2016 01:56 pm)
This is the damson vodka after 16 days. Something about the colour inspired me to look up whether making gin by steeping is a thing. Turns out it is! So I went mad and added 10g juniper berries, about 1/2t coriander seed, 1 cardamon pod (these all crushed a bit) and a fingertip piece of cinnamon. I should try it in a week to see how it tastes. 'Speriment!

Apparently traditional pink gin is just regular gin with a dash of angostura bitters.


strained a week later on 5th Feb


take the booze soaked fruit, wipe off the gin botanicals, pop into a saucepan, barely cover with water, bring to a simmer for 10min. Moule to remove stones.

take the resulting 500ml of slush back to the saucepan. Add 300g sugar. Stir to dissolve, bring to a boil for 10min, bottle.


In early March, the liquor tasted wonderful. Very fruity and the juniper and vanilla were nicely obvious. It was better cut with soda water than straight.
In July, these pleasant flavours had faded away, leaving sharp flavours. I've just (10th July) added some vanilla bean bits from the vanilla sugar jar, and another 10g of juniper.

and strained two weeks later. oops. The recipes I've read suggest infusing between a day and a week.
montjoye: (Default)
( Jan. 13th, 2016 08:22 am)
Putting this here too so I can look it up later:

Not what i was in the mood for tonight but I've just picked a peck of plums, pricked and put them to pickle.

Well my baby damson tree had it's first crop of fruit and the birds had started in. I'd rather they had a bit more colour but they are softish to touch and squirting juice at me when I pricked them. I didn't fancy freezing them and I had no gin but I did have vodka of unknown provenance* in the cupboard. So we will see how this goes. It also has just a heaped dessert spoon of sugar. Hmm, wonder if I have a vanilla bean I could throw in?

These pictures show the 600g I picked last night. This morning I found another 200g. Apparently it's hard to find plums on the tree at night. Who'd have thought?

*I'm not much of a vodka drinker unless you happen to be offering Grey Goose.



then 5 more fruit found and added Jan 23rd. Vanilla bean removed at that stage
montjoye: (Default)
( Apr. 28th, 2013 08:02 am)
It's been a dozen days since I last posted. My brain is too tangled up to post on the important things. What I do need is a record of dates etc on the two brews currently glooping away happily in the dining room.

Damson wine
recipe below started on April 15th, aside from the precook and freeze part which was prior to festi.
My comments, interpretations and alterations in italics. Pics later when I have the full series.

Recipe 1 of 2 -Country summer style (can't remember the source website but this recipe turns up in several places. It is the alternative presented along with the one that says to grow mould on the surface first. Pass, but Weaver has done that one and it is truly tasty)

Ingredients :-
• 3 lb. ripe damsons(I started with ~2kg)
• 3 lb. sugar
• 1 gallon cold water(4.5L)
• pectic enzyme-(1teaspoon)
• campden tablet
• gp wine yeast (fermol rouge, hydrate before pitching)
• yeast nutrients (1g)

Instructions :
pick or buy damsons as ripe as possible,remove stones and wash them well (wash and remove stalks, stew slowly with 200g sugar, mouli to remove stones, freeze, defrost). put the 3lb. damsons in a large saucepan (my big stockpot,fruit inside a brew bag)  and pour on a gallon of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer(a few min only given they were cooked earlier )until the damsons are tender but not mashy. strain off the liquid through muslin into a plastic bucket (lift brewbag and allow to drain back into saucepan). The damsons can now be used as stewed fruit or for making jam(residue is now only worthy as compost, all brown and dry). add 3lb. of granulated sugar to the liquid in the bucket and stir well with a plastic spoon until the sugar has dissolved(tick). leave to cool right down, then add pectic enzyme and a crushed campden tablet(tick). allow 24hrs covered in a warm atmosphere before stirring in the yeast and yeast nutrient. the leave in the warm for three days before you transfer into a fermentation demi-john, fit an airlock and ferment until dry, (this still in progress) when the fermentation has stopped, rack and clear before bottling. some may be required during fermentation and a tablespoon of sugar added once or twice should do no harm. you will de able to drink it in six months or perhaps before that. but the longer you keep it the better it will be.

Racked on 2nd June. there was a white lump of something floating, is this pectin perhaps? I included the ~600ml from the PET bottle (volume that wouldn't fit in the demijohn in the first round). Ferment still going but slow. taste is fiery, fruity, sweet but thankfully not sour.

simpler but a lot more work.
25L home crushed apple juice (2:2:1 acid, tannin, sweet)
5 crushed Campden tablets for 24hrs
Nottingham ale yeast, hydrated before pitching

Apples collected by Weaver and friends, including me. Juicing for this lot happened between April 13 and 21st. Yeast pitched Monday April 22nd. Ferment going by Tues 23rd. As usual I didn't have a proper seal initially. We were being monstered by wasps through the second juicing day. Amazingly only one sting was received that day, by poor Weaver. Lots of wasps got into the juice in one way or another. We should probably call it wasp cider! I boringly insisted that no wasps end up in my fermenter. Weaver set up at least one 50L batch, same juice proportions as mine, including the wasps! Then, because I am experimenting by using an ale yeast, he planned to do one with the same proportions again, but sans wasps, both with our more usual champagne yeast. Ha, he is such a  Weaver, but I appreciate the scientific approach, test one variable at a time eh?   Oh, juicing method this year was almost the same as last- Commercial juicer then pulp put through a hydrolic press. Last year we took the juice from the juicer and only pressed the pulp, but we ended up with a LOT of solids in the fermenters. This year we recombined juice and pulp and pressed the lot. This made for very satisfying pressings :-) and much clearer juice.

montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 18th, 2013 03:38 pm)
We picked some little yellow fruit on Saturday, stone fruit but about the size of large grapes. A spot of googling suggests that they are likely to be mirabelle plums. I brought 2kg home and now they are sauce. I've lightly modified a recipe from the blog "Vanilla Garlic"

3L plums, cleaned, sliced into (too hard to stone)
1.5L sugar
mix and allow to sit overnight (this releases juices)

1/2 t vanilla paste
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
juice 1/2 lemon

heat gently, stew until flesh soft, moule to remove stones and most skins.
boil 20-30min to thicken (not a full set)

Smells grand. Colour is more golden than this pic suggests. Minor miracle: I ended up with 5 neat jars full, no part jars.


montjoye: (Default)
( Feb. 9th, 2011 08:35 pm)

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp anise seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 2 dried bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1.25kg white sugar
  • 2 kg plums
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) lemon juice
  1. Place a couple of small saucers in the freezer to chill. Place spices, bay leaves, wine and 1 cup sugar in a large, wide, heavy-based saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave to cool. When cool, strain though a fine sieve over a bowl.
  2. Return strained syrup to pan with 1 cup water and plums. Bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer over low-medium heat for 35 minutes.
  3. Uncover pan. Add lemon juice and remaining sugar. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then simmer, uncovered, over medium heat, skimming any scum from top, for 45-50 minutes or until jam jells when tested. To test, place a small spoonful on a chilled saucer then return to freezer for 1 minute. Run your finger through chilled jam; it should be the consistency of honey and wrinkle slightly when pushed. Once at this stage, pour into hot sterilised jars and seal.

I scaled this up to 3kg plums, also added a moule step at the end of step 2. As best I could tell, very late at night and exhausted, it tastes very promising. I'm hopeful this will be a very good thing.
montjoye: (Default)
( Feb. 9th, 2011 08:19 pm)
  • 1.5kg plums
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cups vinegar (white/red wine or cider vinegar)
  • 1 hot chilli, seeded and chopped (optional)
Bring all to boil until plums collapse.
Pass through mouli or sieve to remove stones and spices.
Boil uncovered until it thickens. Note it thickens further on cooling. (aiming for a bit thicker than tomato sauce).
Wait at least a month before using.

This is a St Stephanie (Stephanie Alexander) recipe. I've altered the method because these plums are not easily stoned.

Alternative method for ease:
destone plums
use approx equivalent ground spices
after cooking until plums collapse, whizz with a stab blender to puree
then continue cooking to thicken.

If your plums are very sour, use extra sugar.


montjoye: (Default)


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