For your hip flask

Sloe gin is the classic tipple for your hip flask, but over the last few years we have been making new wild liqueurs ourselves and have been given some great ideas by friends too.

Last week we tasted a ‘Duke of Northumberland’ it’s a really warming winter tot, full of fruity sweetness but with the glow of whisky too. The recipe is equal parts cherry brandy and whisky in the hip flask together.

  It’s the time of year for drinking liqueurs really rather than making them but hopefully these recipes will stay in your mind until the fruit is back in season.

 You can use sloes or damsons for this recipe: damson gin is fruitier than sloe gin.

Damsons ripen before sloes usually in August – September, sloes from September onwards. They say that the sloes are better after the first frosts. (the frost sweetens and intensifies the flavour) If you can’t wait for a frost you can always freeze the fruit at home.

Sloe Gin (or Damson Gin)

1.25 kg sloes or damsons

250g sugar

half tsp almond extract (extract in alcohol)

1.65 ltr gin (approx)

It is important to get the almond extract that has an alcohol base and not an oil base, as you might guess the oil based extract just sits on the top of the liqueur and does not mix in.

Wash the fruit and remove any stalks. Prick each fruit 3 or 4 times with a pin and put in a large storage jar. Add the sugar, almond extract and gin and stir it every hour until the sugar is dissolved. Stir every day for a week and then every week until the gin is ready… probably just before Christmas.

Check the sweetness before you bottle the gin, if you want to sweeten it add caster sugar to taste.

Remove the fruit from the gin then strain it through a very fine mesh sieve or muslin. This removes any tiny particles and stops sediment forming in the bottles. Now bottle the gin, it can be drunk straight away but improves with keeping.

  Blackberry Whisky

75cl blended Whisky,

200g blackberries

100g sugar

Wash the blackberries and put them into a large bottle or jar. Add the whisky and sugar. Shake or stir to dissolve the sugar and leave in a dark place for a month. Once a week stir or shake the whisky to help extract the flavour from the fruit. After a month taste the whisky to check for flavour and sweetness.

The flavour of your blackberry whisky will vary from year to year as the fruit varies. You can easily sweeten the liqueur by stirring in some caster sugar. If there is not enough blackberry flavour add some frozen berries and leave for another week or two. When you ready to bottle the whisky remove the blackberries and strain the whisky through a very fine mesh sieve or muslin.

Don’t throw away the blackberries they are gorgeous mixed with cooking apples in a crumble or in cakes or winter trifles.

Cherry Brandy

We use wild cherries but you do not have to, cultivated cherries are fine too. Cherries differ in sweetness often from one tree to the next and in some years they are sweeter than others. Although you shouldn’t use bitter cherries don’t worry too much as the sweetness of the finished liqueur can be adjusted at the end.

700ml brandy

150ml vodka

700g wild cherries

200g sugar

Wash and dry the cherries then cut them in half, leaving the stones in one half. Put the cherries into a wide necked bottle or jar and add the brandy, vodka and sugar. Shake or stir the ingredients to dissolve the sugar then leave in a cool dark cupboard for a couple of months. Shake the jar every week or so to help the flavour come out of the cherries then when the two months is up check the taste. Adjust the sweetness if necessary by adding caster sugar and then remove the cherries and strain the liqueur through muslin to remove any fine particles.

You can use the cherries in all sorts of desserts, they go very well with chocolate, ice cream, cheesecake etc. or you can use them in savoury dishes for example with duck or other game meat.

Shrimps, shrimps wonderful shrimps!!!!

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Last night our new wild food foraging courses for 2013 went live onto our website.  This year we have expanded our coastal courses to include the Northwest and explore a new area with an exciting range of wild foods that we can’t find on the Yorkshire coastline.

For this new course in Flookburgh, Cumbria we have enlisted the help of an amazing local expert, Steve Manning whose family has been fishing Morcambe bay for three generations.  His speciality is the brown shrimp which is one of my favourites and a great reason to fish and forage in this area.

The brown shrimp is much neglected, I have no idea why, yes it is a little smaller than the watery pink prawns you can buy in the supermarket, but for taste it cannot be beaten and it’s wild and local!!. We are not the only ones who want to champion this amazing ingredient and many great chefs in the UK are using them, as our course hit the internet last night the BBC’s Great british food revival had Glynn Purnell in Flookburgh fishing for shrimps just like we will on the course!!  Glynns half hour spot was hugely inspiring and some of the recipes looked amazing, it got my mind racing about all the delicious dishes I will be cooking on the courses!!!

To checkout our Coastal courses follow this link http://www.tastethewild.co.uk/courses-coastal.html .

Come and join us exploring the wild food of the British coastline whether it is the rocky, lobster rich shore of the North east or the sandy salt marsh delights of Cumbria. You will be guided by wild food experts and local fishermen.

Also,

If you fancy trying some shrimps you can buy them online!!!  Make sure you support our local fisherman, they are a dying breed and if we lose them we will be losing some of our British heritage as well as amazing ingredients.  http://www.morecambebayshrimps.com/Morecambe_Bay_Potted_Shrimps.htm

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