The Fruits of Hubby’s Labour

The advantage of living where we live is that there can be an abundance of wild food and many people prepared to tell you their wild food haunts. Since tasting my Father-in-Law’s sloe gin at Christmas last year I was determined that this year we would make our own. Well the weather put a stop on that plan as the sloe harvest is really poor this year so had to settle on some other fruits we could forage.

Inspired by Hugh F-W, Hubby set out Ray Mears style to forage for free food. Although there was no sloes he did manage to find the last of the blackberries and a tree heaving in haw berries. Added to the 5kg of apples from Aunt’s tree we had a plethora of free food to work with.

A few months back we picked up a copy of River Cottage Handbook: Preserves and today it certainly came into its own!

First to be made was Haw Ketchup. Haws eaten raw are incredibly sour (Hubby can vouch for that!) and you wouldn’t expect them to be edible, but with a bit of cooking they can be made into a lovely fruity sour sauce that will be perfect with game. I’m looking forward to trying this with a dish in a couple of weeks.

Haw Ketchup
Makes about 500ml
From River Cottage: Preserves

500g haw berries (Haws), washed
300ml cider vinegar
300ml water
170g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper, to taste

1) Simmer the haws in the vinegar and water for around 30 min until the berries are soft.

2) Pass through a sieve to rid of stones and skins.

3) Return the juice to a clean pan, stir in sugar and gently boil for 5 minutes. Pour into a sterilised bottle. Keeps for 12 months.

Next was the turn of flavouring some alcohols. If we weren’t going to have sloe gin for this Christmas we could at least have blackberry & apple gin plus some haw brandy. The method for both of these flavoured alcohols is the same, all your doing is changing the ingredients. The longer you leave them to steep the better. Ideally they say you should leave them for a minimum of 8-10 weeks. The tasting at Christmas will tell us if they are really any good.

Blackcurrant & Apple Gin

300g apples (2 large apples)
200g blackcurrants
200g sugar
700ml gin

Haw Brandy
225g haws
110g sugar
300ml brandy

1) Pour alcohol into bottle, followed by fruit then sugar. Give it a good shake until all ingredients are well mixed.

2) For the first week shake the bottle to stop the sugar settling to the bottom. After that shake on a weekly basis and taste after 8 weeks. Once it is ready for drinking filter through some kitchen paper/coffee filter. Enjoy!

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