Gin, flavoured with sweet elderberries, and spiced with warming cinnamon and juniper.
Last year I discovered elderberries for the first time, I love their slightly medicinal sweet flavour, so I will definitely be using them a lot again this year. Last year I made elderberry gin, which was lovely so I am making a few more batches this year.
I made both a plain elderberry and a spiced elderberry gin last year, and I much preferred the spiced version, as I think the cinnamon and juniper complemented the flavour of the elderberries really well.
Elderberries are the berries that grow on the elder tree, after it has produced elderflowers. They are really common in the UK, and you will find trees along hedgerows, along paths and in woods. to collect the berries I usually bring a small pair of scissors and a plastic bag with me, so I cut off whole berry clusters from the tree and store them in the bag. Try to only take clusters where there are no more than three underripe, green or pink berries. Berries that are perfectly ripe will make the best gin as they will release more juice.
Make sure you don’t eat any elderberries raw, as they do contain cyanide which needs to be cooked off before they are consumed! Another good tip is not to use any expensive gin in this recipe, as the elderberries and sugar will make any gin taste delicious, I just use the cheapest gin I can find.
Variations: I think adding some orange peel to the gin would be really good, and adding some more winter spices would also work, so I might try out some cloves and mace next time.
Ingredients: Makes around 1 litre
- 600g elderberries
- 250g sugar
- 750ml Gin
- 1tbsp allspice/juniper berries
- 1 cinnamon stick
Carefully detatch the elderberries from the stalks with a fork, making sure you remove and insects that have been hiding in the berries! Transfer the berries to a pan, and pick out any remaining bits of stem.
Add a splash of water and cook the berries over a low heat, until they have started to release their juices and the mixture has just reached the boil.
Pour the hot berries into a large kilner jar, and then add the sugar. Pour in the gin, and finally add in the spices. Seal and shake until the sugar has dissolved. Store in a cool dark place for three months, shaking a few times a week.
After three months strain the gin through a muslin bag to remove the seeds and berries, then pour into a clean sterilised glass bottle. Seal and store in a cool dark place. Delicious served neat over ice.