So, it’s all systems go for Christmas and we are feeling particularly rushed to get all the preparations ready after having spent a very special couple of weeks in the US with family for Thanksgiving.
Christmas is about so many things… but for us, it’s all about all the little traditions that every family and culture has, and that now as parents, we have huge responsibility of crafting into our children’s future memories.
Traditions are a big part of what makes our identity, and they matter. They are great reminders of what was important to all those generations before us and they are filled with magic. It doesn’t matter if we now think differently, or even hold different religious notions, because when we get down to the essence of what they represent, we always find beautiful messages of love, gratitude, hope and friendship – and what could be more important than to pause our day-to-day busy lives to cherish all that we have?
One British tradition that we have just introduced this year and are crazy about, is the tradition of making your own Festive Liqueur. Foraging when food is plentiful in the summer and then preserving supplies for the winter months has been done all across the world since the beginning of time, but it’s not something that we think about or do enough of nowadays, and we really should. With this in mind we spent many happy days in late August foraging Wild Blackberries and Damsons (which look a bit like plums, but as smaller and not as sweet) with the kids in the fields near us, and then making lots and lots of jars of jam. So many in fact, that towards the end we started to research what else we could do with the fruit and came across the wonderful tradition of making your own liqueur, which in essence is the practice of picking late summer berries and then infusing them into a Gin, Vodka or Whisky so that it’s ready in time for the Christmas celebrations.
We made Damson Gin and Damson Whisky for the first time this year, and shared a little glass of it on Thanksgiving with the stateside family, and were surprised at how nice well received it was, and so in the hope of convincing some of you to try it and introduce it as part of your traditions next year you will find the recipe below.
The liqueur will be great to share with friends and family, but it will be particularly well suited for Father Christmas traditional Christmas Eve offering, next to a nice (Fairtrade) Gingerbread biscuit or two… and don’t forget to leave a little something for Rudolph!!!
- 400 grs Damsons
- 300 grs Fairtrade sugar
- 75 cl Gin (good quality)
- 2 star aniseeds
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 cloves
- Pick your damsons in late summer making sure they are ripe.
- Wash them well.
- Prick their skin with a fork
- Place them in 2 large wide-neck jars (200 grs in each).
- Place 150 grs of sugar in each jar and half of the spices.
- Give them a good shake and then place them on their side in a dark cupboard
- Give them a good shake every 2-3 days for the first couple of weeks and the every week or so until Xmas
- When you are ready to drink it (at least 3 months later for best results) distil the contents into another bottle, discard the fruit and enjoy!