This simple blackberry gin recipe uses just three ingredients and is perfect for late summer cocktails or stored for a Christmas tipple
By Richard Chivers
Across the country, the hedgerows are bursting with an abundance of blackberries. Harvested between August and Mid-October, blackberries grow wild throughout Europe. As many of us will do over the coming months, archaeological evidence suggests humans have enjoyed this delicious fruit for over 8,000 years.
Blackberry picking in late summer brings nostalgic childhood memories. Our family would meet every other Sunday at my grandparents for lunch. My cousins and I were loaded up with pots, pans and carrier bags and sent off into the fields to harvest wild blackberries for my grandmother to turn into a crumble for dessert. Many of the berries were too much of a temptation and we would often return with the red stains of our crime around our mouths.
Pick wild blackberries or grow your own
When nature is in such a giving mood, we should certainly reap the rewards our hedgerows are providing. Not only are the berries delicious and sweeter as we move into September, they are a fantastic source of vitamin C and dietary fibre too.
There are now 2,000 varieties of blackberries worldwide. If you really enjoy these dark juicy fruits, there are some wonderful hybrid varieties you can grow on the allotment or in the kitchen garden. They will also provide much more flavour than those that grow wild. One of the most popular varieties is Loch Ness. It produces a high yield of blackberries, it’s thornless and because the plants have a compact habitat, it is a perfect option for smaller spaces.
Grow your own Blackberries
Blackberries also tolerate a little shade which makes them a good pick for that corner of the garden you just don’t know what to do with. You can buy pot grown blackberries or bare root bushes in the winter. Soak them in water before planting and water them in well. Most varieties require a spacing of 1.5 metres but even one plant will provide a plentiful crop. There’s a little bit of management required as you’ll need to grow them up a network of wires. Tie the new growth in, cut back the old canes to soil level and they will enjoy a good mulch in the winter.
Blackberries have a short life. You really need to use them as soon as possible after a harvest. It’s one of the reasons they tend to be expensive to buy in the supermarkets. However, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem as they are a versatile ingredient in the kitchen from crumble, pie and homemade jam, they even work in salads too.
Simple Blackberry Gin Recipe
I’ve found another use for them in the form of gin. Blackberry infused gin is the perfect way to see out the end of summer or even to keep until Christmas.
Simple Blackberry Gin Recipe
- 250 g ripe Blackberries about two cups
- 70 cl Gin (about 3 cups) No need for a premium brand, but not one with complex botanicals
- 110 g white Sugar about 1/2 cup
- Place the blackberries in a sterilised jar and cover with the sugar. Add the gin and give the jar a good shake. Place the jar in a dark place, like a kitchen cupboard.
- Give the jar a shake every so often over the next few days until the sugar has dissolved.
- Leave to mature. It’s drinkable in 4 weeks but it can be left for 3 months.
- Strain the gin through a muslin cloth, try not to break up the blackberries. Pour the liquid into a bottle. If you think it needs it, add a little more sugar and shake until it’s dissolved. Tip: Though you won't need the actual blackberries after this stage you don't have to discard them. Pop them into a glass of Prosecco for a blackberry gin cocktail.
- After 4 weeks, the gin is beautiful dark red in colour. It still holds a boozy strength but with a fruity tone of the blackberries. For the perfect, refreshing summer cocktail, serve a double measure chilled over ice and topped up with tonic.
- If your leave the gin for 3 months, it mellows and the full fruitiness of the blackberries comes through and it’s smooth enough to serve over ice as a liqueur. An excellent addition is a cinnamon stick which can be added to the gin at the same time as the sugar.
If you enjoy this recipe, you might also like this easy to make Pink Rhubarb Gin. It’s sweet, mellow and has a spectacular colour.