Plum delicious

The jar’s been sealed and tucked away in a dark corner for a year, quietly doing its thing.

When I drag it out of the cupboard, I can see the colour is gorgeous. Luckily the taste is just as good – strong, not too sweet, a little bit fruity.

The gorgeous liquid that results. I put it in an old 4 Pillars Shiraz Gin bottle, which seemed appropriate.

Plum gin. Sometimes it’s called a liqueur, though I usually try to keep the sugar content lower than that.

In this time when flavoured gins are becoming more popular, it’s nice to realise just how easy it is to make some yourself.

I decided to try my own after I fell in love with a European cocktail based on sloe gin (see earlier post in this blog), which at that stage was quite hard to come by in Melbourne. Sloe berries were even harder to come by.

I decided the next best bet would be to try getting a similar flavour with an old-fashioned European plum (since sloe berries are a member of the plum family), something with the same dark colour and whitish bloom on the skin.

Those plums can be tricky to get too, but the rest of the process is simplicity itself. It just requires patience.

The next lot ready to be stored away for the winter.

Plum Gin

• You need a quantity of small, purple plums, preferably a variety that’s not too juicy – you’re not making fruit juice – enough to fill your desired jar. I used Angelina plums. Wash them thoroughly.

• Prick the plums all over with a fork, to allow the fruit’s juices to come out.

• Pack them tightly in a jar.

• Add an amount of sugar – this is going to depend on how sweet you want them. I used about a third of a cup for 1/2kg of plums. Many recipes go for a higher amount, but I prefer it not too sweet.

• Add some spices (optional) – I put in one all spice, a teaspoon of coriander seeds and a couple of cloves.

• Cover with gin. The quality of the gin will make a difference, but bear in mind that the gin flavour is going to be thoroughly obscured by the plums, so there’s no point getting too fancy.

• Shake jar every day or two until the sugar is fully dissolved.

Then put it away somewhere dark and forget about it for a few months. The usual rule is to leave the jar at least 3 months. I think a year is good – you’ll be reminded to decant the contents about the time you’re ready to make the next lot. Throw away the used plums – they won’t taste of anything much any more, and they’ll look a bit like big squishy olives.

The old, spent plums, ready to be turfed.

Sidenote: If you have a variety of plums that come clean off the pip and you want to use them for jam,  you can use the pips for a similar, even more delicious, drink. Just pack the pips in a small jar, add a small amount of sugar and cover with gin, then leave for a year. The flavour is amazing.

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