I just posted a video of me giving my blackberry bay infused gin jars their daily shake and social media went a bit wild so I thought I’d better hurry up and post the recipe while there are still berries to be found.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram will have seen my recent obsessive blackberry picking. I can’t resist some free organic fruit and spent the first weeks of September forcing my children to accompany me on walks – armed with boxes to collect our fruit.
Blackberry picking is one of my fondest memories of growing up. I am from a long line of women who find it impossible to pass a blackberry bush without picking a few and popping them into any random container we can conjure up. Now I love introducing my boys to the thrill of the chase. It is important for small children to connect with where their food comes from and they are, of course, brilliant free labour. Not only that but it just feels a lovely wholesome way to spend an hour or two with them – disconnected from the daily madness and working together to gather something delicious to eat.
Chemical free and easily bug free
When you pick blackberries, put them in a bowl of water when you get home and leave them soaking overnight. That way any dust or bugs will float out and can be washed away, leaving you with pristine fruit. If the bugs bother you, try and think how much better it is to wash a bug off your fruit than ingest the chemicals most of those picture perfect supermarket berries are sprayed with.
Usually my blackberries end up being stewed with cooking apples and frozen so that I have lots of free fruit to top porridge and yoghurt for breakfasts or to use as a base for a crumble or pie. The smugometer does rather explode when I see my freezer full of jars of this mixture and my health and wallet is pretty chuffed too.
This year our picking went into overdrive and because there is only so much blackberry crumble a girl can eat, I turned my attention to other ways of using my harvest. And me being me, one of the first thoughts I had was booze.
blackberry bay infused gin
Infusing gin or vodka with fruit is nothing new. But adding a few more grown up flavours, so that resulting spirit is complex rather than sweet and cloying is the trick. I think infused gin is a gorgeous Christmas gift and this blackberry bay version makes a nice change from sloe gin. You can make it in berry season and then decant it and gift it at Christmas.
Sip it neat with ice or put a little in a champagne glass before topping up with cava or prosecco.
ingredients for blackberry bay infused gin
300g (10.5 oz) blackberries or blueberries
225g (8oz) sugar
1 liter (1 and ¾ pint) gin – don’t spend too much as the flavour of a fancy gin will be lost
2 fresh bay leaves
to make blackberry bay infused gin
- Wash and sterilize a large mason jar or a few smaller ones – you need them to hold about 2 pints in total. Sterilize by putting the clean jar (lid off but sterilized too) in the oven at 260°F (130°C) for 10 minutes. Carefully remove it using gloves and avoid touching the inside of the lid or the jar.
- Put the berries and sugar into the jar and use a clean spatula to squish them together so that the sugar starts to dissolve and the berries give up their juice.
- Add the whole bay leaf to the berries and top up with gin. Give it a stir then fasten the lid on and shake. Keep the gin bottle to put your infused gin back into in a few weeks time.
- Leave the jars in a cool dark place (the garage is good) and shake them every day for 3 weeks.
- After 3 weeks, sterilize your empty gin bottle and one other screw-top bottle – or use a selection of single serve empty wine bottles if you are gifting the gin.
- Open the jar and strain the liquid through a paper coffee filter or a clean cheesecloth into a large jug. Gently squeeze the berries so that the juice comes through. Discard the berries and bay or mix the berries with apple sauce as the base for a boozy crumble .
- Pour the infused gin into your sterilized bottles and then seal and label. The gin will keep in a cool dark place for a year. Once opened consume within 2 weeks – which is why it is good to keep it in smaller bottles so you don’t have to have gin every day!
You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools.
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I’d love to see what you end up with and how you use your blackberry bay infused gin, so remember to share this with your friends and on my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest when you make it. Tag it #ystcook so I can see!