Blackberry Gin

Home-made Blackberry Gin

This method for home-made Blackberry Gin is incredibly easy and results in a beautiful ruby-coloured, sweet liqueur. It has a delicious, rich, sweet-sour flavour.

I have only recently started making Blackberry Gin. Having had some initial success with Elderflower Gin and Rhubarb Gin (which is great for cocktails!) last year, I started to think about other seasonal fruits that I could use to produce delicious home-made gin! I have always been a keen blackberry picker but, in the past, have used them for jam and also cakes, puddings and desserts such as Blackberry Muffins, Blackberry Crumble and Blackberry Fool. However, it occurred to me that they might taste pretty good as a flavouring for gin.

Late August and early September is blackberry season in the Cotswolds. On my daily dog walks, I see the brambles growing rapidly during early summer. By mid-summer, their flowers are turning to fruit. In late summer, within a week or so, they suddenly seem to be covered in hundreds of juicy blackberries. You can, of course, buy blackberries all year round in supermarkets these days. However, there is nothing like picking your own. Even people who would never forage for any other kind of wild produce have memories of going blackberrying. Where I live, it is a pretty popular thing to do. On my relatively short drive to work last week, I saw no less than three groups of people, equipped with plastic containers and thick gloves, picking the blackberries that grow along the roadside.

In the past few years, there has been an increase in the popularity of flavoured gins, including Blackberry Gin, produced by niche producers and selling for a premium in supermarkets.  I think home-made and traditional is best in terms of both flavour and price, so why not try making your own? It is really easy!

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What you need to know about making Blackberry Gin

  • First off, it is incredibly easy. Even to describe it as a recipe is a bit of an exaggeration! You simply need to combine the blackberries, sugar and gin and leave for the delicious fruity flavour to infuse the liquid.
  • However, you do need to think ahead. You cannot just rustle up a batch of Blackberry Gin to drink tomorrow as it needs around a month for the infusion of flavour to happen.
  • I think of this as a seasonal recipe and make it in August and September when there are plentiful wild blackberries growing near my house. I make a lot of infused gins around that time of year using season produce such as damsons, plums and also late rhubarb. Their sweet, fruitiness makes them ideal as drinks over the Christmas and New Year period.
  • However, if you want to make this recipe using bought blackberries – either fresh or frozen – it will still work. It will just be a bit more expensive to make as the main flavouring ingredient is not free! Also, I find that shop-bought blackberries tend to be sweeter than wild blackberries so you won’t get such a tangy sweet-sour flavour.
  • I use a basic, “own-brand” gin from the supermarket to make this recipe. It is not worth using anything fancy. You can also use vodka as an alternative.

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How to drink Blackberry Gin

The result of this recipe is a sweet, alcoholic liqueur-style drink. I like it best served on its own in a small glass (or maybe several small glasses!). You can drink it as an aperitif before a meal or, my preference, as a liqueur at the end of a meal. It is also a good to drink as an accompaniment to a dessert course, as alternative to a dessert wine. This is particularly true if the dessert includes blackberries or other complementary flavours such as apple.

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Other home-made fruit gins

If you enjoy this Blackberry Gin, you may also be interested in my other easy recipes for Rhubarb Gin, Plum Gin, Damson Gin and Elderflower Gin.

Blackberry Gin recipe

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Blackberry Gin

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Total Time: 15
  • Yield: 200 ml 1x
  • Category: Gin
  • Cuisine: English

Description

Making your own Blackberry Gin is so easy and the end result is a delicious reminder of blackberry season that you can enjoy all year around!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 200 g (7 oz) blackberries
  • 100 g  (3.5 oz) caster or super-fine sugar
  • 200 ml (quarter of a pint) gin

 


Instructions

  1. Wash the blackberries thoroughly.
  2. Mix the blackberries thoroughly with the sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Spoon the blackberries and sugar into a sterilised jar.  Leave for 24 hours to allow the blackberries to macerate in the sugar and   release their juices.
  4. Add the gin to the jar of blackberries and sugar.  Shake thoroughly to ensure it is mixed.
  5. Leave in a cool, dry, dark place for four weeks.
  6. At the end of that time, the gin is ready to drink!    Strain the gin into sterilised bottles through a muslin cloth held in a funnel and it will keep for approximately six months.

 


Notes

You can sterilise your jar by washing it in warm, soapy water, rinsing well and then drying off for 15 minutes in an oven set at 140C/120C fan/gas 1.       

Although it only takes 15 minutes preparation time, you will need to allow 24 hours for the blackberries to macerate  in the sugar and, once you have added the gin, it will take a further four weeks to allow the flavour to develop. 

You can scale this recipe up or down according to how many blackberries you feel like picking.  Add half as much weight in sugar as your weight of blackberries.  The amount of gin in ml should be equivalent to the weight in grams of your blackberries. 

Keywords: blackberries, blackberry, gin, home-made gin, blackberry recipe

Smoked Salmon Tart with Prawns

Easy recipe for Smoked Salmon Tart with Prawns

This Smoked Salmon Tart with Prawns is one of my favourite recipes.  It is so quick and easy it is the perfect after-work supper.  If you don’t want to make your own pastry, ready-made is fine, and this makes the recipe even easier.

The inclusion of  smoked salmon and prawns  also gives this tart seem a bit special and luxurious.  This makes it also good for a dinner party or a fancy picnic.  Smoked salmon and prawns are not the cheapest ingredients but a little goes a long way in this tart.   I use smoked salmon trimmings, which are available in most supermarkets, and are much more affordable than smoked salmon slices whilst still having all the taste.

I make a lot of savoury tarts as they can be made ahead of time so are great in all kinds of situations –  family suppers, dinner parties, cold buffets or picnics – and are good either hot, warm or cold .  If you like this recipe, you may also like some of my other recipes such as Crab and Prawn Tart with Chilli and CorianderCaramelised Onion Tart, Tomato TartButternut Squash Tart or  Herb Tartlets.

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Other quiche and tart recipes

I make a lot of quiches and savoury tarts. In my view, they are one of the most versatile and useful dishes. They are easy to make and easy to divide into portions, they can be made in advance, they can be served hot or cold, there are a lot of vegetarian options which still seem to please meat-eaters and there are lots and lots of possible flavour combinations. In addition to this Smoked Salmon Tart with Prawns, some of my favourites from this are listed below.

Smoked Salmon Tart with Prawns

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Smoked Salmon Tart with Prawns

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 1 tart serving 8 people 1x
  • Category: Tart
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Smoked Salmon Tart with Prawns is extremely easy to make and tastes luxurious!  If you don’t want to make your own pastry, you can use ready-made which will make it even easier.  Smoked salmon trimmings are used to keep the cost down.


Ingredients

Scale

For the pastry:

  • 275 g (10 oz) plain or all-purpose flour
  • 125 g fat (5 oz) (I use a mix of half butter and half Trex as I think this makes the lightest pastry)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A little water

For the filling:

  • 3 eggs
  • 200 ml (quarter of a pint) double or heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Half a teaspoon cayenne
  • A little grated nutmeg
  • 100 g (4 oz) smoked salmon trimmings
  • 125 g (5 oz) raw peeled prawns

Instructions

  1. Set your oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
  2. Make the pastry. Put the flour in a bowl.  Add the fat and combine –  either by “rubbing in” by hand or processing – until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add a little cold water (2-3 tbsp) and shape the mixture into a dough.
  3. Roll out your pastry and use it to line your quiche or flan dish.   Bake for 5  minutes in the oven to allow the pastry to “set”.  This will stop the filling making it soggy!
  4. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the cream, and beat until combined.   Season with salt and pepper – you will not need much salt as the smoked salmon is very salty.  Add the cayenne and nutmeg.
  5. Stir the smoked salmon trimmings into the egg mixture.
  6. Place the raw prawns in your pastry case.  Pour the egg mixture over them.
  7. Place your quiche or flan dish in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.
  8. The tart can be eaten hot, room temperature or cold.

Keywords: smoked salmon, tart, smoked salmon tart, quiche,

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Lemon Biscuits (Lemon Cookies)

Simple Lemon Biscuits (Lemon Cookies)

These Lemon Biscuits (Lemon Cookies) are very quick and easy to make and also very versatile.  They are made of lovely buttery shortbread, flavoured with zesty lemon, and the addition of ground almonds keeps them moist and gives them a lovely crumbly texture.

What you need to know about making Lemon Biscuits (Lemon Cookies)

  • This is a really easy recipe which makes it perfect for those who are not experienced bakers. It is also a great recipe if you want to cook with younger children or for older children to cook by themselves.
  • It is also a very quick recipe – from bowl to table in under half an hour. This makes it great if you need to produce something yummy and home-baked and are short of time.
  • The addition of a small amount of ground almonds makes a real difference to this recipe. It makes the shortbread crumbly but moist and also goes really well with the lemon flavour.
  • I always use butter in this recipe as I prefer the flavour. However, if you are a vegan or wish to avoid dairy products, you can use a non-dairy substitute instead of the butter.

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Other easy shortbread and biscuit (cookie) recipes

Baking shortbread or biscuits (cookies) is a really good place to start for inexperienced bakers. They are generally very easy and do not take very long to bake. A lot of my recipes use floral flavours such as my Almond Shortbread with Rosewater or simple Lavender Shortbread or fruit such as my Shortbread with White Chocolate and Raspberries. Others are flavoured with herbs more generally used in savoury recipes such as my Thyme Biscuits (Cookies) with Pinenuts. If you are looking for an easy recipe to go with a cup of tea on a cold winter’s day, you could do worse than my Ginger Biscuits (Cookies) or my seasonal Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies) with Tangerine and Dried Cranberries. I also have a great Cheese Biscuit recipe, which you can make with or without chilli, if you want a savoury snack.

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Easy recipe for home-made Lemon Biscuits (Lemon Cookies)

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Lemon Biscuits

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 30 biscuits 1x
  • Category: Biscuits
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

Crisp, buttery and zesty,  these Lemon Biscuits make a fantastic accompaniment to ice-cream or sorbet but are also great with a cup of tea!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 225 g (8 oz) butter
  • 85 g (3 oz) caster sugar
  • 275 g (9.5 oz) plain flour
  • 25 g (1 oz) ground almonds
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 200 g (7 oz) icing sugar (optional)

Instructions

  1. Set your oven to 200 degrees C/gas mark 6.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the flour, ground almonds and lemon zest and combine to form a soft dough.
  4. Gently roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut into shapes using a cookie cutter.  I tend to make them either heart-shaped or round or  any shape you like!
  5. Place the dough shapes on a lightly floured baking tray.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes until firm and golden.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray for five minutes or so.
  8. If you wish, once the biscuits are completely cooled, mix the juice of half a lemon with the icing sugar to make a simple icing and drizzle it over them. Alternatively, you could just sprinkle each biscuit with a little caster sugar while it is still warm.
  9. Transfer the biscuits to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Keywords: lemon biscuits

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Lavender Ice Cream

Easy Lavender Ice Cream recipe

I make Lavender Ice Cream using my standard ice cream recipe. It has a wonderful floral creaminess which is perfect eaten in the garden on a sunny English summer day!

Lavender is a strong taste and needs to be used in moderation to avoid echoes of furniture polish!  Don’t be tempted to increase the amount in this recipe.  What you are looking for is a subtle whisper of lavender rather than a full-on bombardment of your taste-buds.    As it is such a strong flavour,  I would serve this Lavender Ice Cream on its own or possibly together with plain vanilla ice cream or maybe Lemon Shortbread biscuits.

You only need the egg yolks for this recipe which means you will have spare egg whites.  As I hate waste, I pretty much always make some form of meringue, when I make ice cream and, very conveniently, my meringue recipe requires four egg whites.  If you feel in the mood for meringue, you could check out my basic Meringue  or Pavlova recipes, or if you want something slightly different, you could try my Rose Meringue recipe.

Edible flower recipes – lavender, rose and elderflower

As is probably obvious from the title of this blog, I love using floral flavourings in my cooking. Lavender-lovers might like the recipes for Lavender Cake and Lavender Shortbread and Honey Cream Tea with Lavender Scones.

For rose-lovers, there are some great easy baking recipes including Rose and Strawberry Cream Cake and Almond Shortbread with Rosewater. For dessert, you could try Rose and Raspberry Pavlova or Rose Meringues. I also have a fantastic easy recipe for delicious floral Rose Petal Jam and an easy-peasy recipe for Crystallised Rose Petals.

For elderflower-lovers, there are recipes for Elderflower Ice CreamGooseberry and Elderflower Sorbet and Elderflower and Lemon Cupcakes. I also have a recipe for a classic Elderflower Cordial and also really easy recipes for Elderflower Gin and a lovely floral-flavoured Elderflower Vinegar.

Other home-made ice cream recipes

I am a great home-made ice cream enthusiast. I make it in the summer, of course, but am happy to eat it in winter too! There are some brilliant, shop-bought ice creams available but it is so easy to make your own. I like to experiment with flavours and some of my other ice cream recipes are listed below.

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Easy recipe for Lavender Ice Cream

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Lavender Ice Cream

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: for 6 people 1x
  • Category: Ice-cream
  • Cuisine: English

Description

Rich and creamy, this Lavender Ice Cream is a great way of using the wonderful, floral taste of lavender.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 85 g caster sugar
  • 425 ml double cream
  • 3 fresh lavender flowers broken down into petals (or 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh lavender leaves)
Lavender Ice-cream, lavender ice cream recipe, lavender ice cream
Cream and lavender

Instructions

  1. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl until the mixture looks paler and resembles a mousse.
  2. Put the cream and lavender flowers or leaves in a saucepan and heat gently. Do not allow to boil – it will be the right temperature when you are just about able to bear to dip a finger in it!
  3. Remove the saucepan containing the cream and lavender from the heat.  At this stage you can strain the cream to remove all the lavender.  I generally don’t strain the lavender out as I like the little blue petals distributed through the ice cream but I know some people prefer a totally smoothe ice cream with just the flavour and no petals!
  4. Pour the infused cream into the bowl containing the egg yolks and sugar, whisking all the time.
  5. Transfer the combined mixture into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water or, ideally a double-boiler, as you need to reheat it very gently.
  6. The mixture will gradually thicken until it looks like a custard (which is what it is).  Stir regularly to make sure it does not stick while it is thickening.
  7. Remove the thick custard from the heat and transfer into a bowl.  Allow to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge to become thoroughly chilled.
  8. When you are ready to make the ice-cream, transfer to your ice-cream maker and use according to your machine’s instructions.  If you do not have an ice-cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen.  Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.

Notes

Make sure that you only use fresh lavender that you are sure has not been sprayed with chemicals.  The best place to source it is from your garden – it is very easy to grow!

If you do not have access to fresh lavender, you can use 2 teaspoons of dried culinary lavender.  The flavour is strengthened by the drying process, so the amount is less than that for fresh lavender.

Keywords: lavender, ice-cream, lavender ice-cream, lavender ice cream, recipe

Lavender Shortbread

Easy home-made Lavender Shortbread

This quick and easy Lavender Shortbread recipe is the perfect place to start if you have never tried using this delicious floral flavour in your cooking. The shortbread is buttery and delicious with a subtle lavender flavour. It is very simple to make and takes under half an hour from start to finish.

Plain shortbread is  delicious – it should have a fairly soft, crumbly texture –   but it also makes great vehicle to showcase a range of flavours,  including lavender, rose geranium, thyme, rosemary and lemon verbena.   It is a great accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee and is also a good partner with ice-cream or sorbet.

I love lavender!  I grow several varieties in my garden and look forward to the first hot day of the year when you get a waft of lavender scent on the air and know that summer is truly here.   Lavender Shortbread is an excellent way of capturing the essence of this beautiful, fragrant plant.

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What you need to know about making Lavender Shortbread

  • This is a really easy recipe which makes it perfect for those who are not experienced bakers. It is also a great recipe if you want to cook with younger children or for older children to cook by themselves.
  • It is also a very quick recipe – from bowl to table in under half an hour. This makes it great if you need to produce something yummy and home-baked and are short of time.
  • In this recipe, I flavoured my shortbread with my shortbread with fresh, finely chopped lavender leaves from a plant in my garden. It is the leaves, rather than the flowers, that have the strong lavender flavour. If you are using fresh lavender you must be sure that it has not been treated with any chemical pesticides or herbicides.
  • If you do not have access to fresh lavender, you can buy dried culinary lavender in many supermarkets. However, you must make sure that it is labelled for culinary use.
  • Lavender has a strong flavour! Don’t be tempted to use too much. If you use the amounts specified in this recipe, you will get a subtly flavoured shortbread.
  • The addition of a small amount of ground almonds makes a real difference to this recipe. It makes the shortbread crumbly but moist and also goes really well with the lavender flavour.
  • I always use butter in this recipe as I prefer the flavour. However, if you are a vegan or wish to avoid dairy products, you can use a non-dairy substitute instead of the butter.

Using lavender in cooking

Lavender has many culinary uses and its fragrance works well in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes.   However, you do have to be a bit careful though as lavender is a very strongly scented plant and, if you use too much, it can overwhelm other flavours.  For this reason, I think it is best used on its own rather than in combination with other aromatics.

The history of culinary lavender

The English word lavender is thought to be derived either from Old French lavandre which is taken from the Latin lavare “to wash” which refers to the practice of using it in infusions or from the Latin livere “blueish” in reference to its colour.   Lavender (“nard” in Hebrew) is mentioned in the Song of Solomon. 

It was introduced into England in the 1600s.  At that time, it was used to make herb tea which was appreciated for its taste and for its medicinal properties.   It was also used to make a conserve which was prized by members of the aristocracy including, allegedly, Queen Elizabeth 1.    Although lavender is often now associated with southern French cuisine, it was not widely used until the turn of the 20th century and its use was popularised only later  by its inclusion in the 1970s in herbes de Provence, a blend of herbs invented by spice wholesalers.

Other lavender recipes

If you like this Lavender Shortbread you might like to try my rich and creamy Lavender Ice Cream, which is very easy to make, or my simple Lavender Loaf Cake.

Other easy shortbread and biscuit recipes

Baking shortbread or biscuits (cookies) is a really good place to start for inexperienced bakers. They are generally very easy and do not take very long to bake. If you like this recipe, you might also like my Almond Shortbread with Rosewater or simple Lemon Biscuits (Cookies). I also have a great Cheese Biscuit recipe, which you can make with or without chilli, if you want a savoury snack.

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Lavender Shortbread recipe

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Lavender Shortbread

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 15 biscuits 1x
  • Category: Biscuits
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

These crumbly shortbread biscuits, delicately flavoured with lavender, are fantastic as an accompaniment to ice-cream or sorbet – or just with a cup of tea!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 125 g (4 oz) butter 
  • 55 g (2 oz) caster sugar
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) plain flour
  • 20 g (1 oz) cornflour
  • 60 g (2 oz) ground almonds
  • 4 teaspoons fresh, finely chopped lavender leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender)

Instructions

  1. Set your oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas Mark 6.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  3. Add the flour, cornflour and ground almonds and combine.
  4. Detach the small lavender flowers from their stalks and add them to the mixture.
  5. Roll out the shortbread dough to a thickness of approximately 0.5 cm (or a quarter of an inch).
  6. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes from the dough.
  7. Put the dough shapes onto a greased baking tray.
  8. Bake the shortbread dough shapes for 15 minutes.  They will be done when they are firm to the touch and light golden in colour.
  9. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Notes

If you are using fresh lavender leaves, make sure that they have not been treated with any chemicals.  Do not use shop-bought lavender unless it is specifically designated as “culinary lavender”.

Keywords: lavender, shortbread, lavender shortbread, lavender biscuits, lavender hearts, lavender cookies

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