Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sloe poke

Bottling sloe gin is normally done in the winter - preferably in time to enjoy the fruits of your not-labour at Christmas. But better late than never - I've been periodically looking at, gently agitating and thinking of these beautiful jewel-coloured jars since October when I picked the fruit and had my first go at liqueurs.

Tonight I had a first go at bottling two of the three and I learned the following:
  • Logically, to the initial alcohol you have added sugar and fruitness, both of which increase the volume - I have been astonished at how much gin came out of the jar, given how much went in. Note to self - get more bottles than you think you need.
  • Bottling fruit liqueurs is best not started at 10PM on a weeknight. It takes time for the drip-drip-drip slow separation of alcohol from fruit (as though they are only parting reluctantly, having had such a great roadtrip together these crazy months from clear, transparent liquid through faintly pink to deep amethyst.)
  • Straining the fruit is easier if you can support the fruit and go away and leave it - standing holding the muslin full of fruit with your nose full of the smell is both tantalising and boring.
  • In view of both of the above points, it is better to bottle one liqueur at a time and not attempt two or three at the same time.
However, don't let this put you off. Standing at 11.30PM watching a slightly mesmeric process still beats the leather pants off watching Strictly Come Dancing, so I'm still pretty pleased with my evening's work. And ultimately, this will be a rich harvest for a pleasant autumn walk and a couple of brief kitchen sessions. You could genuinely spend more time designing a label for your gin than actually making it. Though I will invest in some more bottles and consider how to construct a means to hang the bag overnight in the future. (As well as design some proper labels).

I can't wait for the tasting. In the meantime, I think I need to find a better place than under the kitchen sink so I can frequently look on and admire this store cupboard staple!


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