Gooseberries are the most English of fruit, although for some reason it's becoming incredibly hard to find any for sale here in London. The season is just about coming to an end. I had been meaning to make Gooseberry Gin for ages, but, typically, had never got around to it until last weekend, when I managed to track down a packet of frozen gooseberries from the wonderfully helpful Wholefoods in Kensington High Street.
Gooseberry Gin is a flavoured, gin-based liqueur, made in a similar way to the much-loved, traditional Winter tipple, Sloe Gin. I find that freezing the fruit helps to break them down- which, as you want the sugars and juices to be released- is a good thing.
Making the gin was straightforward. I bought a standard large bottle of Sainsbury's home-brand gin (actually distilled by Greenall's, so it's more than all right). I smashed up the thawed green gooseberries with a wooden mallet and filled an empty glass bottle (an ex-olive oil bottle with one of those plastic swing corks) with the gooseberries- about half way up. I poured granulated white sugar into the bottle- about a third way up. I topped up the bottle with the Sainsbury's gin, and finished it off with a few teaspoons of concentrated organic Belvoir Elderflower Cordial. I shook it up. The gin turned a lovely light greeney-grey Eau de Nil colour. I need to carry on shaking the bottle every day for about two weeks, and then it's going into the dark, cool(ish) cellar for six months or so.
I've had a sneaky taste already, and it's looking good. Very floral, very grassy, masses of tart grapefruit, similar in a way to those lovely grassy, summery tastes you get in a decent Sauvignon Blanc. I think it's going to be excellent as a summer liqueur in its own right, or perhaps, as an alternative to the standard gin and tonic. I like the idea of offering guests a Gooseberry Gin & Tonic.
The photograph comes from an inspirational Scottish deli called Demijohn in Edinburgh. This sort of thing really turns me on. It looks a bit like an apothecary in a monastary. Love the white painted brick walls. The only thing lacking is chanted plain song in the background. They sell all manner of home-made liqueurs, steeped vinegars, balsamics, whiskies, scented oils- the lot.