This is the first year we’ve made homemade damson gin using the damsons that grow in our garden. We’ve lived here for five summers now and I can’t believe we hadn’t done it sooner because damson gin is so delicious!
Our first batch of homemade damson gin is rich and fruity and sweet. It’s so good we immediately made a second batch so we have some ready for the spring!
I’ve bought these cute little jars and gift tags so we can give them to our friends and family as Christmas gifts and I’ve dried some oranges to decorate them. I’m so pleased with how they’ve turned out and I know our family will love this delicious and thoughtful homemade present!
How to make homemade damson gin
A trick for picking your damsons
If you’re picking your own damsons then I have a little trick to make it easier! Put an old sheet down on the grass below the tree. Get a ladder and climb up to the top and give the top branches of your damson tree a good shake.
If your damsons are ready to be picked then they will simply fall from the tree in a shower of delicious damsons. It’s much easier than picking them!
I read online that October 1st is traditionally when you pick your damsons but we picked ours in mid-September. They were definitely ready to be picked and most of ours were rotten by the end of September.
Should you freeze your damsons?
I recommend freezing your damsons as soon as you’ve picked them. As I picked them I put them into carrier bags and put full bags into our chest freezer. You don’t need to worry about splitting them into smaller bags because the damsons will break apart even when they’re frozen together.
I found the damsons started to wilt really quickly so they need to be frozen within a day or two – or immediately if possible.
It’s also good to make your homemade damson gin with frozen damsons because you can bash them with a rolling pin to help break them up slightly so all the lovely flavour comes out. It also means you’ll always have fresh damsons in the freezer if you want to make another batch of gin or jam later in the year.
How to make damson gin
- Clean your mason jar with warm water and washing up liquid and then place it in the oven for 10 minutes while it’s still wet and with a splash of water inside it.
- Take your damsons out of the freezer, place them in a small plastic bag and give the frozen damsons a quick beating with a rolling pin to smash them up a little
- Take your mason jar and layer it to the top with layers of damsons and caster sugar.
- You don’t need to be too precise when it comes to measurements. We used a small bag of caster sugar for 1 litre of gin.
- Once your jar is full, add your gin.
- Every day for a week or two you’ll need to tip your jar upside down a few times.
- Don’t shake your jar, gently tip it. I have no idea why, we just read this online and followed the advice!
- After two weeks you can tip your jar every week or so.
- Keep your jar in a cool, dark cupboard and store it for about 3 months before drinking.
- The longer you leave it, the sweeter and richer it will become.
- After 3 months, drain your homemade damson gin through a sieve and then strain it through a muslin cloth.
- Decant your damson gin into a pretty bottle and viola!
What you’ll need to make homemade damson gin
- A bag of frozen damsons
- Caster sugar (about 400g to 1 litre of gin)
- A bottle of gin (I used 1L of Grayson’s gin from Aldi – cheap gin is fine)
- A large mason jar (mine is from The Range)
- A sieve
- A muslin (if you’ve got old baby muslins that’s perfect)
- A jug
- A funnel small enough for your bottle(s)
- Small bottle(s) to decant your finished product into
What to do with the damsons after making damson gin
Once you’ve made your homemade damson gin you’re going to be left with a lot of lovely damsons that have soaked up some gin. Don’t waste your damsons! Keep them in the fridge and serve them with ice and tonic and the gin will diffuse out of the damsons. Just be careful when you do this because you won’t know what kind of gin measurement you’re getting and the sweet damson gin is deceptively delicious and easy to drink!
Decorating your mini bottles for Christmas gifts
I bought a box of 36 50ml glass bottles with cork lids. They were from Amazon and cost £24.95.
I also bought 100 rustic gift tags for £3.99 from Amazon.
I also bought a gift tag stamp set from Sostrene Grene for £2.74 (I love that shop!)
And my final touch was a slice of dried orange for decoration. It’s really easy to dry oranges, just slice them up, place them on a baking tray and pop them in the oven on about 120 degrees C for about 3 hours. You’ll need to turn them every 30 minutes and keep a close eye on them when you get to about 2 hours because they can burn quickly when they’re nearly done.
And there you have it. A really simple, easy and affordable homemade Christmas gift that is delicious and almost every adult will love it.I’ve got to admit that gin isn’t my favourite drink and I love damson gin. I also found it a lot of fun to make these – especially as we did it as a family and all got involved with different jobs.
I’m sure this will become a regular September tradition for our family and our friends will be getting little bottles of damson gin for years to come!