Friday, 23 August 2013

A matter of taste and tractors

Our damson gin has a gold star from the British Great Taste awards, with lots of good comments from the judges on the depth of flavour and good balance between fruit, gin and sugar. It was up against 10,000 other food and drink products for some coveted stars and was the only damson gin to take any award. It was good to get feedback and helps me make some plans to aim for a rare as hen's teeth 3 star award.

And up in the orchard in the Lyth Valley home of the world's finest damsons, the fruit is beginning to ripen and slowly a blue blush steals across the trees. On a recent visit I took a day off from liqueur production to hitch a ride on the Two Bryan's (infamous) Tractor Run. Hurtling over the Howgills , along Tebay Valley up and over the Shap fells was exhilarating. I had the honour of being in the company of Viking tractor god Bryan from Park End Farm.

Meanwhile in East London the gooseberry and blackcurrant crops are finished and the freezer is stuffed to the gills, with the aim of extending the summer fruit liqueur season well into the autumn.  I'm running out of space in the house and beginning to think about how to grow the business. I have spotted a small mechanical filter pump used by small scale wine producers to clear sediment that might be just the thing to speed up the process of decanting the alcohol off the fruit. The Industrial Revolution is on its' way to Walthamstow.

In honour of the combustion engine I bring you the,

Dirt n' Diesel 
(by Cale Green from Seattle)

2 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Rum
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Demerara Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

A Murder of Mulberries

A 200 year old Mulberry tree in a nearby garden has generously donated it's juicy scarlet bounty to Mother's Ruin. With the help Nick and Siobhan and baby Ethan we discovered the only way to pick mulberries is the the old fashioned way. Shaking and tapping the high heavily hung branches, and pouncing on the ripe berries when they tumbled down. Staining hands and sheets, a few hours work gave up enough berries for a small batch of gin which after only a few days has turned a deep glowing ruby red. I think the tart and slightly aromatic fruit is going to be a perfect match for the gin.


It's possible that this old tree is related to the first mulberry trees that were imported to Britain in the 1600's by King James who was keen to rival the Chinese silk trade by starting one of his own. Unfortunately for the silk worms he imported the wrong kind of mulberry, as they only eat the leaves of  white mulberries. Fortunately for us he imported the black mulberry which has the juiciest and most flavoursome fruit. 

The mulberry tree is a place for myths and story tellers. The fictional story teller Kai Lung unrolls his mat under a mulberry tree. Star crossed lovers Pyramus and Thisbe love and die under the mulberry tree, with the colour of mulberry juice stained forever blood red in honour of their grief. Modern story tellers words without borders share a piece of writing about an Iranian mulberry tree.

 A Mulberry and lavender cocktail
  • 20 medium sized Mulberries (or 10 large ones)*
  • 1 tablespoon Lavender Simple Syrup
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 5 mint leaves
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Fresh lemon juice, 1/2 lemon
  • Soda water, fill
 Combine mulberries, mint, small drizzle of honey and simple syrup in cocktail shaker. Muddle until mulberries are juiced. Add ice, vodka and lemon juice. Shake and strain pulp using a sieve. Pour over ice in glass and garnish with extra mulberries and lavender sprig. Said to cleanse the blood, act against aging and packed full of vitamin C and Iron, surely the perfect summer tonic.