Something this easy doesn’t really deserve the name of a recipe, it’s more of a doze while the alcohol and natural fruit does the work for you. But it ends up as something delicious for which you will gain praise, deservedly, because it also needs patience; a virtue in rather short supply.
You can make a flavoured vodka out of pretty much any fruit, but the stronger tastes and firmer fruits work best, and can be played with, as they can take extra notes such as cinnamon if you desire. Damson trees have a habit of over producing in some years and making a sweet spirit can be a great way of dealing with the excess, while you use up the very best fruit in crumbles, pies, jams and other preserves.
Because damsons have a thick skin and are small, so have little fruit compared to the big fat plums, they do need a good two months marinating with the vodka to get the flavour out. You can assist the flavour migration by spearing the damsons as you throw them into the bottle or by freezing them beforehand which splits the skins and allows the alcohol to penetrate. I never have enough room in my freezer for random bags of fruit, so I just pinch the fruit a bit as I clean it and leave it two months in the vodka. It seems to do the trick. As I said, more of a doze than a recipe.
Play with the flavours if you like – add a stick of cinnamon or a couple of star anise to the mixture if you feel you would like a Christmas tinge to your vodka. Having tried one or two variations, I prefer the plainer fruiter version but that’s just me.
Makes nearly 3 x 300ml bottles 20 minutes preparation, 2 months in the dark
Place the clean damsons in a container you can seal up – an old coffee jar or kilner jar is ideal. You’ll need 2 x large coffee jars for this quantity. As you put them in, prick them with a skewer or pinch them with your fingernails just to split the skin a little bit.
Add the sugar. Pour the vodka over.
Seal up your jars and leave them in a cool dark place. For the first 2 weeks try to shake them every day to distribute the sugar and keep the alcohol moving into the fruit. After that, shake them every week or so. You will notice it takes about a month for the sugar to disappear. The vodka will start off clear and gradually take a ruby tinge. It will also evaporate a little if your jars are not quite tight, doesn’t matter. But alcohol does tend to creep a bit so put the jars on a piece of kitchen paper to mop up any sticky spills.
After about 2 months, you can strain off the vodka and bottle it. If you bashed your damsons or froze them, you might have to strain the liquid through a muslin cloth to get the fine bits out if you want a crystal clear final result. I just sieved through a normal kitchen sieve because my damsons were still quite intact. The fruit can be de-stoned and eaten over ice-cream, added to a crumble or used in boozy chocolates – recipe for that one to come nearer to Christmas.
You are supposed to leave the Damson Vodka for a year to mature. I have never had the willpower to do this so I cannot vouch for how much better it tastes after a year. I really can’t imagine it can be much better than it already is. I stand ready to be corrected however, so all you experienced fruit vodka makers out there can put me right.
The Damson Vodka can be drunk by itself over ice as a seasonal aperitif, mixed with prosecco, used in all sort of cocktails, or as a post prandial tipple on its own.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.