As a child I made complicated potions in the bath with tooth paste and soap and a precise combination of hot and cold water which if correctly stirred and shaken promised all manner of exciting results. I am happy to say that my potion making days are not behind me and on drinking my new potions, the results promise to be equally thrilling.
This Autumn, as I ventured out into the hedgerows of sussex I encountered sloes, crab apples and blackberries. My local veg man was selling lovely damsons and Sainsburys was flogging off the last of their home reared strawberries. And so the apothecary within set about making various infusions of these fruits with vodka’s and gins. The general recipe is as follows
– One large necked jar or bottle
– A quantity of fruit
– Sugar (granulated or caster)
Clean and sterilise the container of choice. Slice or prick the fruit so that the skin is broken (popular methods include freezing or jabbing with a fork) and pour into jar or bottle until it is about half filled. Pour the sugar over the fruit until it fills all the gaps and is about level with the line of fruit and then pour over chosen alcohol. Seal jar or bottle, shake and place in a dark place, shaking it regularly for the first couple of weeks and sporadically following until all the sugar has been dissolved.
Leave to infuse in dry dark place for 3 – 6 months after which time you may strain out the fruit and decant into suitable bottles.
People have various theories surrounding pretty much every stage of this method which apparently make or break the brew but I find that this basic method makes a lovely potion and a lovely gift.
Serve the final concoction over ice, in a hot toddy in winter or on warm summers day with lemonade and a squeeze of lime.