Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mulberry Vodka

Traditionally the point where summer begins to turn to autumn isn't my favourite time of year. By the second half of August the nights are noticeably darker, spiders start appearing EVERYWHERE, and the countryside takes on a faded, burnt out, sort of look. At work all the joy of a Christmas in retail is starting to loom; there's a lot I could say about a Christmas in retail but it probably wouldn't abide by my employers social media policy so I'll just say it's hard work. For months. All of it makes me feel older, sadder, and in desperate need of a sizeable lottery win. 

Perhaps I should start buying lottery tickets, but instead I settled for buying a lot of vodka and pinching mulberries from a nearby tree. 

The one thing I really do like about this time of year is the foraging and preserving opportunities it brings. There's something intensely comforting about storing summer fruit to brighten up winter days (I love winter, the darker and colder the better), last year I went slightly over board with it (over a hundred jars of jam, jelly, mincemeat, marmalade, and chutney) this year I'm going to try for a bit more self control but it's an addictive business. 

Near where I live there is a conveniently underused public garden and in it there are treasures - including a very ancient mulberry. I have asked permission for the fruit before and got it, I probably shouldn't admit that this year I shamelessly scrumped it (the gardener wasn't around to ask, indeed there were no witnesses at all...). Mulberries are hard to come by, but I got 2.5 kilos off this tree without making any noticeable difference to the amount of fruit left on it so I've been able to have a bit of fun with them. 

The mulberry vodka from Mark Diacono's 'A Year at Otter Farm' was a given. It's a beautifully simple recipe - quarter fill a sterilised jar with sugar then empty it into a bowl. Half fill the jar with mulberries, put the sugar back in, and then fill it with vodka. Wait for a year. I am now waiting for a year. 

I wanted to make some jam too, but couldn't find a recipe I really liked so adapted the raspberry fridge one I use (half the weight of the fruit in jam sugar, heated until the sugar melts, then boiled for 5 mins before bottling) with mixed results. Despite adding a little extra pectin and boiling for a bit longer it hasn't really set. On the plus side the syrup with lumps of mulberry in it that I've now got isn't overpoweringly sweet - the fruit flavour still really comes through, and it's delicious on ice cream. I think strained it will also be delicious in ice cream as well and I might try that, but there are all sorts of things it could be good with, and now I'm tempted to go back for more... 


  1. Oh how I agree about this time of year...the remedy of foraging sounds the prefect antidote. Thank you!

  2. I'm glad it's not just me! I've never understood people who talk about how wonderful autumn is, it's not that I hate it or anything, but I do find it a very sad time of year. Jamming and whatnot does help lift my mood though so that's what everyone gets come Christmas!

  3. Oh, *mulberries* - my grandmother had a huge old tree when I was young and it was one of the great pleasures of my life (too young to do my own laundry...) to clamber around in it picking/eating mulberries and getting indelibly stained all over, so that my mother could make jam. One hardly sees mulberries in the suburban 'wild' nowadays, sadly.

  4. It's such a shame, they're beautiful things. I wish that councils when they do public planting would choose more fruit trees. Not entirely for my own foraging purposes, honest, but because it's interesting. I think I spotted a walnut near my sisters house the other day (in someone's garden) and was fascinated by it. Mulberries are so odd looking as berries, and watching the quince and medlar in the same museum garden they came from slowly ripen is brilliant.

  5. for jam use twice as much pecti as suggested plus lemon juice it can be made to set.