Back in the autumn I was planning on making sloe gin – we did have a beautiful looking crop of sloes coming along. Unfortunately, when the morning sickness kicked I lost all interest in the idea and by the time I was thinking I could stomach it, the birds had run off with the sloes. Luckily, Andy was quicker off the mark with picking the damsons and we have had an enormous bag sat in the freezer awaiting my attention. So, today I finally decided it was time to get them steeping…

 I hunted around on the internet and found a variety of recipes, of which some even recommend freezing the damsons first! Having read all the recipes, I resorted to making it up as I went along.  I started off with a clean jar and added:

500g frozen damsons
150g white granulated sugar
70cl gin (courtesy of a birthday present which arrived after I found out I was pregnant and could no longer be quite so indulgent)

The jar didn’t look very full so I then sloshed in about another 30cl of gin from an open bottle, another couple of handfuls of damsons and another couple of tablespoons of sugar. Obviously not exactly a scientific approach and won’t find out the results for quite some time. All the recipes say shake every day for a couple of weeks until all the sugars dissolved, then leave to mature for 3-4 months before straining and decanting and possibly leaving another 6 months before consumption… I hope its worth the wait!


To distract myself from the mingin’ cold I seem to have developed, I thought I’d tell you about my marmalade. It was very nearly a disaster when I bought the wrong kind of orange – how can there be a wrong kind of orange? On closer inspection of the recipe, after I bought a delicious looking bag of big juicy oranges, I noticed the crucial reference to retaining any pips which contain pectin and makes the marmalade set. Mine were apparently the very best eating oranges – with no pips! I then scoured the house for marmalade recipes and mixed and matched until I came up with the following:

4 navel oranges
2 unwaxed lemons
500ml apple juice
2 1/2l water
2kg jam sugar (with added pectin!)

I followed a pretty standard method involving juicing the fruit over a seive lined with muslin, scooping out the remaining flesh (pith and pips an all) into the muslin. Spend hours finely chopping all the skin and leaving to soak overnight in the fluids with the muslin bag of goodies. Following day I simmered for about 3 hours til the skins were really squishy then removed the muslin and added the sugar.


This is where it all got a bit scientific, but I tried my best to be professional, dolloping gloop onto cold plates in the hope it would wrinkle. I have to say it never really wrinkled as such, but I decided after 25ish minutes, once nearly everything in the kitchen was pretty sticky, it must be about done.

Getting it into the jars was not easy. There was quite alot of scolded  fingers and another whole layer of stickiness to contend with, ooo and I didn’t let it cool enough before putting in jars so all the peel floated to the top and I had to try and redistibute when it cooled some more… but, in the end I got 9 jars (not sure the exact quantity as they’re all different sizes) of what looked suspiciously like marmalade!

This morning, I cracked open the first jar – it is sooo delicious. Definitely worth the effort!