Hawthorn ber­ries ripen in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber. Gather them now and make a de­li­cious liqueur to warm your soul in the win­ter months, says Emma Mitchell

Countryfile Magazine - - Month In The Country -

You will need:

• One or more 500ml or 1ltr (17 or 34fl oz) jars with lever seals e.g. Kil­ner or Weck (it’s cru­cial that the jars are air­tight when closed)

• Sharp scis­sors

• Fun­nel

• Muslin, 1m (3ft) squared

• Hawthorn ber­ries, enough to fill your jar(s)

• Gin, enough to fill your jar(s)

• White or golden gran­u­lated or caster sugar, about 400g (14oz) for a 1ltr (34fl oz) jar and 200g (9oz) for a 500ml (17fl oz) jar

1 Col­lect enough haw ber­ries to fill your jar. Wash them and, with a pair of sharp scis­sors, re­move any stalks and dried flow­ers from the end of each berry. Haws are quite small and can take some time to top and tail, so pop a film or box set on or lis­ten to the ra­dio as you work. 2 You can now ster­ilise the jar. If it has a rub­ber seal, re­move it. Set your oven to 140°C/275°F/gas mark 1, wash your jar in hot soapy wa­ter, place it up­side down on a bak­ing tray and put it in the oven for around 10 min­utes, be­fore re­mov­ing it to cool. Don’t touch the inside of the jar be­fore you make your gin. Boil the rub­ber seal for 10 min­utes in a saucepan of wa­ter. 3 Put a hand­ful of haws into the jar about 3cm deep, then pour in a quar­ter of the sugar. Add an­other layer of haws, top with sugar and re­peat this process un­til you have filled the jar. Pour in the gin, seal the jar, then up­end care­fully a cou­ple of times in case air has be­come trapped be­tween the ber­ries. Top up with more gin. 4 Place your gin on a kitchen shelf out of di­rect sun­light or in a cup­board for 4–6 weeks. Af­ter this time, the colour from the ber­ries will have seeped into the gin stain­ing it a beau­ti­ful auburn colour. 5 You can let the haws in­fuse fur­ther but sed­i­ment will be­gin to form at this stage as the ber­ries break down. To avoid this, pour the gin though a muslin-lined fun­nel into an­other ster­ilised, seal­able jar. Re­seal the jar and dis­card the haws. You can now en­joy your gin.

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