Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gin and Mince Pies

Now we're in the last week of November it's definitely alright to talk about festive preparations, mine continue apace. The Christmas cakes are baked, the puddings boiled, the chutney maturing - along with mincemeat, cranberry gin has been bottled, and I've started the Candied oranges. I'm really going for it with the homemade thing.

There are a lot of advantages to making presents if you like that sort if thing, the first being that if you like that sort of thing it's fun. From a financial point of view it's easy to manage over a few months, and in my circle at least not many of us actually need much. Not things that we can afford to buy each other anyway (I might be in want of a new oven soon, the washing machine is on it's last legs, and I'd quite like my bathroom ceiling replaced and the tiles done) and we all have enough general stuff. Edible gifts, or drinkable ones, on the other hand are generally useful. With all the coming and going someone's bound to eat/drink it at some point.

I will also say that after 15 years in retail I regard the festive season with a more than is healthy amount of cynicism; I'm not yet in the least bit cynical about baking so it helps redress the balance and gives me some rituals I can enjoy. That's important to me, I have neither children of my own or nieces and nephews. My partner and I have different family and work commitments to meet over Christmas so have never yet spent 1 together, and now my grandparents have gone there's no clan gathering (which, to be fair, were never much fun as my grandmother didn't really like having people in the house and my grandfather only emerged from the seclusion of his private sitting room to eat). It would be easy to ignore it all, but go that route and where's the joy?

Meanwhile I've been unsuccessfully searching for a panatonne recipe which looks like it isn't a massive faff to make, tastes the way I expect it to, and isn't for an industrial quantity and successfully making cranberry gin. I missed the damsons this year and find sloe gin a bit to medicinal so Diana Henry's suggestion of a cranberry version was timely, especially after I'd wildly over estimated how many I would need for chutney making purposes. I added some orange peel and used pine scented sugar - the sugar purely because I realised I had no idea what to do with it having made it, and it wasn't going to fight with the gin. I've bottled it after only 2 weeks as I'm happy with the flavour now, it's going to be brilliant either with soda water as a long drink or in possibly in some sort of cocktail (though the later will almost certainly mean a hellish hangover).


  1. I can only imagine how a house filled with the scent of candying oranges smells - *drools*. I'm going to force some of my cumquats in gin on the unsuspecting if I get organised (and if, when the great opening of jar and tasting occurs, they don't produce a terrifying and permanently sour grimace! If hideous, I shall discard the cumquats and use your gin and soda suggestion to dilute the remaining alcohol.)

  2. It smells strongly of oranges! Process takes a week and us a but of a pain but worth it. Sure gin will be excellent :-)

  3. I love the glowing orange colour of that gin. Looks delicious.

  4. I have high hopes for it, my mother has already commandeered one bottle, it may become a seasonal fixture...