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The Irish summer so far this year has been short. Shorter than the Seven Dwarves, wetter than a factory floor in one of those Safety At Work commercials, and surprisingly cold and gusty this past week.

While the strawberries, raspberries, apples and plums have survived spring and are beginning to fruit, who knows what the harvest will be like. At least there’s the good old gooseberries to fall back on.

The Gooseberry Gin Recipe

Making gooseberry gin is quite like making sloe gin. I prefer the dark “dessert” variety that ripen to a red wine colour in late July or August. Believe it or not they have a natural sweet intensity – unlike the usual tarty green unripe things you come across right now – so they’ll need far less sugar.

(The best of these red varieties is called “Whinham’s Industry”, which sounds eminently Victorian and North of England and probably is.)

  1. Use a basic, cheap gin. The gooseberries will do the flavouring work, with the gin acting as a flavour carrier.
  2. Gather up your gooseberries. Don’t fret if a leaf or two sneaks into the mix. And no need to “top and tail” each berry.
  3. Put them in the freezer overnight, to begin to break down the fruit and release the sugars and juices.
  4. Thaw the berries. Mush them roughly with a pestle and mortar.
  5. Using a funnel, add the fruit mush to a clean bottle/jar so that the mix is about half way up the container.
  6. Add granulated white sugar to about a quarter of the way up the bottle/jar.
  7. Top it all up with the gin.
  8. Store the bottle away in a cool dark cupboard for four months or more.
  9. For the first fortnight give the bottle a quick shake once a day. It won’t look promising yet – more like a mushy jam or chutney than a delicate drink. Don’t panic. It will soon have a pinky glow and a fruity, slightly earthy fragrance.
  10. Finally, strain it through muslin or a fine sieve and drink. Neat.

See also: my post on making homemade gin for Christmas


The unpromising pink mush at its early stages