I can’t help noticing that there’ve been a lot of people looking at my bullace jam recipe lately and I thought another use for these tasty wild plums might not go amiss.
They’re growing in profusion again this year and they have a wonderful flavour, but because they’re tiny and are mostly skin and stone, they’re not the easiest things to cook with.
May I therefore present (loud fanfare) Mrs Portly’s Bullace Gin. You don’t have to stone the little blighters to make it and it tastes sublime. The only drawback is that you have to wait at least three months before you can drink it (and preferably much longer).
You can use the same recipe for black bullaces, sloes and damsons, although it’s a good idea (if laborious) to prick sloes if you’re using them, to let the juices run. I know people say freezing works but in my experience it doesn’t unless they’re very ripe.
A note on the sugar: I prefer my fruit gins not too sweet. I’ve taken a middle position here but if you’re in any doubt, go with a smaller quantity then taste it when you bottle it. If it’s not sweet enough, add some concentrated sugar syrup.
100-150g sugar (I used golden caster)
Up to 1.5 litres of gin
Half-fill a 2 litre preserving jar with bullaces, add the sugar and top up with gin. Seal the jar and give it a shake every day until the sugar has dissolved, then store in a cool dark place for at least three months.
Then strain the gin through a sterilised wrung-out muslin cloth and bottle it up. The longer you leave it, the better it gets, but it’s a sore temptation when it’s sitting in the cupboard winking at you.
It’s up to you what you do with the gin-soaked bullaces at this point. My sister once made a seriously alcoholic pie with the leftovers from damson gin but the stone-to-fruit ratio in bullaces is probably too high. Perhaps a boozy version of the wild plum jam …