Gin has experienced a heightened sense of popularity of late, with lots of artisan gin companies springing up. If you venture into a trendy little bar and ask for  a gin and tonic you may be overwhelmed by the choice of different gins they have to offer. Though, gin is undoubtedly an International tipple to me it is still quintessentially an English drink, this is because of the mark it has left on British history and it’s quirkiness.  Whilst gin is now putting on a a veil of sophistication and basking in expensive spices such as saffron, cardamom and is demanding to be served with only the finest botanic infused tonic waters, its name still has negative connotations – think ‘mother’s ruin’, ‘gin-sodden’ or ‘gin-mill’.

It must be said that I rather enjoy a good G&T with ice and a slice, but what I like better is my home made gin infusions, for when it comes to gin flavours the world of possibilities is endless.  To be honest when it comes to alcohol infusions there is no need to stick to gin, as long as the alcohol content is around 35% or above then fruit can go in and you can make an infusion, so you can dry quince vodka, Seville orange whisky and sloe rum.

During the infusing period the alcohol is sucking out the essence of your fruit or botanical. It takes less time for the flavour to come from botanicals and herbs than it does from a blackberry as generally the flavour is much more intense. This means you can add just 3 scotch bonnet chillies to a litre of vodka and get strong results, but three blackberries wouldn’t yield much in terms of flavour, so the best rule is to give fruit plenty of time, but be on red alert when it comes to strong botanicals such as star anise, chillies, and cinnamon.

How much sugar to put in your alcohol infusion?

When developing a new infusion it is worth bearing in mind that the sugar content or sweet/tart nature of your fruit. For example blackberries have a high sugar content so you might want to add less sugar to a batch, whereas gooseberries and sloes are tart and may require a little more sugar to make palatable.

 

Around 3:1 alcohol to sugar ratio makes for a pretty sweet end result, that seems to suit most palettes.

When it comes to Sugar you can use any sugar, but the dark sugars (like muscavado) tend to need longer to mellow and will also influence the colour of your finished infusion.

 

 

So once you’ve decided on your fruit, sugar content it is time to let your gin infuse. For this you’ll need an air tight container and I’ve used everything from kilner jars, old jam jars, big old pickle jars and demijohns for the job. Once you have chosen your container and put all the ingredients you are using in it give it a good shake and pop it in a cool, dark place.

Check your 2 or 3 days, taste a little dram, then again after a week, 2 weeks, a month then 3 months. If at any time you think,’’ I like the taste of that’’ then strain through a piece of muslin cloth into a sterilised bottle and the process is complete.

Seren’s Favourite Recipes

Eastern Promise Gin

I really rather like the taste of Turkish Delight, to be fair I like the flavour of Turkish Delight better than the texture, so the ideal solution to this problem is impart the flavour of this delicious confectionary into alcohol. Gin and Turkish delights equals a winning combination in my opinion.

Ingredients:

750 ml gin

100g chopped rose Turkish delight

1 tsp. rosewater

280g  white sugar

Method: 

Place the rosewater and chopped Turkish delight in a kilner style jar with the sugar and gin. Give it a jolly good stir, then store in a cool dark place and shake every day for a week, sample after 7 days and add more sugar as necessary and it should be ready to go after two weeks. Delicious served on the rocks.

 

Marmalade Gin

Now having scooped seven awards at the recent Worlds Original Marmalade Awards, I just couldn’t resist putting my last few Seville oranges to use. I was left with just four Seville oranges at the end of my marmalade making marathon – no where near enough to make marmalade but ample to make a winners celebration tipple. So here is my marmalade making tipple, a gin infused with the bitter, sweet flavour of marmalade.

Ingredients:

 

The peel of 4  Seville oranges.

225g of granulated white sugar

2 cloves

1 star anise

1 whole cinnamon stick

750 ml gin

 

Carefully pare the orange rind (avoiding the bitter pith) and add to a kilner preserving jar

Add the cloves, star anise and cinnamon stick  and the sugar.

Pour in the gin and stir

Leave the bottle in a prominent place for a few days and shake every morning and evening to dissolve the sugar.

After a week place the bottle in a cool, dry place for two weeks, then decant into bottles.

Well, I hope that my recipes have given you some inspiration and that you will now go on to try some flavour combinations of your own. As a final thought I wonder what Toffee Crisp gin would be like?

 

 

 

 

 

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

Food has always been of great importance to Seren and despite her being renowned for her historical recipe recreations, her culinary skills were not honed, in the kitchens of top restaurants, but in the home kitchen from the age of being able to hold a wooden spoon. When Seren was born her mother was taken ill and so she spent her early years being cared for by her grandmother, Minnie. This was to prove instrumental in the development of Seren’s love of cooking, for her grandmother was an accomplished cook, who’s kitchen was always awash with terrine’s, home-made pastry and traditional puddings. Minnie’s love of good food and her zest for life meant Seren’s childhood was filled with days of hedgerow picking, baking, traditional preserving and cooking recipes from the depths of a family copy of, Mrs. Beeton. She learned from an early age how to make Victorian puddings alongside elaborate noble pies and perhaps this explains her love of pastry making and the reason she won an accolade from The Great British Pie Awards this year. Today Seren has great skill in bringing historical food to life and making it accessible and understandable to the modern cook and diner. Her enthusiasm and love of historical food and British cooking is evident in her presentations and she loves to revive forgotten recipes. She recently took part in ITV1’s Country House Sunday and has given live cookery demonstrations across the country at food festivals, historical houses and castles. Trained as a herbalist and nutritionist, she has a deep understanding of improving health through food. Her interest in historic remedies and herbal folklore eventually extended to researching British food history, and reignited her early passion for cooking. Fifteen years on and Seren has amassed extensive knowledge and is now renowned for her historical food recreations and interpretations. Seren’s interest in food history does not just extend to old recipes and cooking techniques, but to ingredients and manufacturers. From the age of fourteen Seren has collected food and drink packaging from early Victorian to the 1960’s. Her collection is now extensive and provides a wonderful snapshot in time that accompanies her vast knowledge of the development of British food and drink companies throughout history. She also has a huge collection of antique kitchenalia and moulds which she uses to replicate historical recipes and portray past eras. Her training in herbalism and nutrition has not been wasted for despite her merits as a food historian and period cook she also delights in creating British Classic dishes for those with food allergies and intolerances (such as gluten and dairy intolerant). Her botanical knowledge has made her a keen wild food educator and forager that lends unusual as well as historical twists to all her cooking. There are also many points at which food and medicine intertwine throughout history and Seren is able to portray these developments and has also undertaken a lot of research into the British spice trade. To Seren historical food is not a job, but a way of life. Visit Seren's blog: Serenity Kitchen