Rhubarb vodka

Flavoured vodka isn’t all that common in the UK, so with the first crop of rhubarb ready in the plot, I decided to make my own. I made some last year, and it’s ridiculously simple for such a lovely end product.

Rhubarb vodka ingredients

 

You’ll need:
1 litre of vodka – any cheap stuff will do – but this was on offer this week
5 sticks of washed rhubarb
1 cup of sugar
Large Kilner jar

Chop up the rhubarb and add to the jar. Add the sugar and vodka and seal. Give it a good old shake to agitate, then pop it in a cupboard out of the way. Every now and then, give the jar a gentle shake to keep mixing the flavours.

Rhubarb vodka

Rhubarb vodka

In about 2 to 3 months, it will be ready. At that stage, drain the liquid through a sieve and decant back into the empty bottle (which you saved). You will be rewarded with a beautifully smooth, slightly syrupy, pink liqueur.

Lush!

Blackberry vodka – the update

You may remember, way back in September

(oooh… almost sounds like the beginning of a cheesy Christmas song!)

No… I didn’t give you my heart or anything sloppy like that… I steeped blackberries in sugar and vodka – which, incidentally was A LOT more exciting!

Well, this week was the time to finish off the vodka and sample my concoction. The timing wasn’t specific – the whole thing’s taken around three months from start to finish.

What to do…

  1. Screw tops off bottles
  2. Sniff contents and have cheeky swig
  3. Empty bottles completely of blackberry and vodka
  4. Sample a blackberry
  5. Bample a couple more sackbarries
  6. Aim funnel onto cop of clean tottle
  7. Vest todka again
  8. Parefully core bodka into vottle
  9. Eat bum more slackberries
  10. Vaste todka again
  11. Squint to focus, crew sap on blottle
  12. One bore mackleberry for luck
  13. Have a lie down

What could be easier? I will definitely be using the original quantities again, because let me tell you – it’s blooming delumptious!

I’ve also kept the blackberries, as they are so infused with vodka-ey goodness,  it would be criminal to dump them. I may well transform them into a boozy jelly or upside-down cake.

As for the blackberry vodka? I’m just hoping it lasts until Christmas!

(hic!)

One glass

Blackberry vodka

With the abundance of blackberries around this year, and if you fancy a change from crumble, why not give this a whirl. Started now, it will be ready for Christmas.

You’ll need:
70cl bottle of cheap vodka
one clean empty wine bottle (screw top)
200g sugar
approx 700g blackberries

What to do:
Divide the vodka between the two bottles
Add 100g sugar to each bottle
plop the blackberries up to the top of both

Store in a cool dark place, and about once a week – making sure the lids are on securely – turn the bottles over to mix. Think bell-ringerand you’ll have cracked it.

The next step in the process can be found in Blackberry vodka – the update

Sloe gin – the sticky end

Well, all that chasing around country lanes in the pursuit of sloe berries was well worth it! We finished up with three bottles of sloe gin and two bottles of sloe vodka – result!

After weeks of agitating the bottles once a week (think bell-ringer), the gin and vodka was ready just before Christmas. I carefully poured the liquid off the berries, and into clean wine bottles. The lesson learnt from last year was NOT to try to strain it through a clean cloth. It came out smelling and tasting of washing powder and the whole batch was ruined.

The smell was divine, the liqueur was thick and almost syrupy, and I have to admit I felt rather smug with my little haul.

We had a family get together over Christmas, and I proudly presented my home-made stash of moonshine. The family were dutifully impressed and the sloe gin/vodka took a mighty bashing that afternoon… it was fair to say that it slipped down like honey!

I’d kept one bottle of sloe gin in the pantry to be savoured in small doses throughout 2012, but the rest of it was ‘open house’.

This plan was doomed for disaster. Our pantry is in fact, a glory hole. You’ll find everything from hoovers to lightbulbs in there. It never gets sorted out, and you almost have to hold the stuff in with one hand, to shut the door with the other. Whilst rustling around in there, the other half inadvertently knocked something over. This in turn created an avalanche of junk. Sod’s law dictated that this would not land on the vintage bottle of Cinzano that’s been lurking around in there since time began…oh no… it only went and landed on the treasured bottle of sloe gin.

If you have ever spilt a glass of red wine, you will know how far it travels. Imagine a whole bottle of sticky, red liqueur smashed all over the pantry floor…

The pantry floor was duly emptied and cleaned, but there is still a faint whiff of gin in there – some of it must have gone down the cracks in the tiles. So instead of having a lovely glass of something yummy, I’ll have to make do with sticking my head in the pantry and taking a big lungful of ginny aroma.

The glass that should be full of sloe gin... but is, in fact, empty.

Sloe gin: the harvest

It’s an annual tradition for me and the 13 year old to venture out into the wilderness to collect sloe berries for the Christmas gin. We’d been told of a new location where apparently the hedgerow was bursting at the seams with them.

The first time we went, we made absolutely sure that we were picking sloes, and not some ‘berry of death’ (might make an interesting conversation piece, but we wouldn’t be invited back again). Sloes are a bit like miniature plums, but slightly smaller than a marble. They’re purple, with a cloudy skin, and a small stone inside. Some say not to pick them until October/November, but we’ve found that by then they have either been eaten by the birds or picked already. Get the ones higher up – they will be riper as they have had more sun.

So there we were, in the idyllic Leicestershire countryside with the canal running through, and you could almost imagine someone in a field somewhere drinking ‘lashings of ginger beer’. It soon became apparent that our  informant was indeed correct: there were LOADS of sloes around!

Our bountiful harvest of sloes

But peace was to be shattered. In a neighbouring farm, we thought someone was teaching someone else how to drive a tractor. We heard, “turn the wheel,” then a slightly more panicked, “turn the wheel,” then a truly ear-shattering, “TURN THE F****KING WHEEL!” Bemused at who could be making such a racket, we dashed up the lane to have a look.

Turned out that the shouter was actually in the digger scoop of a tractor, trying to do some work on a barn roof. Someone else was trying to get him there without much success….
Related posts:

Sloe gin in 5 easy steps

Sloe gin: the sticky end