Spring has sprung. The grass is getting greener, the bluebells in our woods are preparing to debut their beauty and I am starting to plan out what delights I will be conjuring up this year from Mother Nature’s larder.
The start of Spring is signalled in our household by the first delivery of wild garlic from our friend’s garden. Wafts of its delicate scent fills the kitchen and many scrumptious dishes, like Robin’s wonderful butter bean, salami and wild garlic stew that we had earlier this week, soon follow.
Before we know it we will be knee deep in elderflower, lilac, nasturtium, rhubarb, all begging me to make them into pretty jams, cordials and most importantly gin!
So with that thought in mind – I wanted to share with you my delicious recipe for Spiced Quince gin which I have just bottled. You need real discipline and patience not to drink this at Christmas (you start stage 1 at the end of the summer) but if you can leave it until Easter, its delicate flavours of perfumed quince infused with the light spice of ginger and cardamon match tonic perfectly. Or if you fancy something straight up, try mixing with sugar syrup to make a liqueur – perfect over ice cream or neat with a rock or two.
Spiced quince gin
6-7 large quinces
750ml gin (or vodka if you prefer)
10 cardamon pods – bashed gently in a pestle to release their scent
Thumbnail size piece of root ginger
Lemon peel – sliced
- Grate the quinces and put them in a large sterilised preserving jar (I use Kilner jars and wash them in the dishwasher and then let then dry in a warm oven)
- Add the ginger, lemon peel and cardamon. You could also add any other spices you like such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves etc.
- Seal the jar and store in a cool dark place. Shake the jar daily for the first 4 weeks
- The gin can be drunk after 3 months but I prefer to leave it at least 6 months to get a better flavour
- When ready, strain it through a fine sieve or muslin, bottle and enjoy at your leisure.
If you would rather make a liqueur, simply boil 350g caster sugar in 350ml water until all the sugar has dissolved. Once cooled, add to the strained gin and bottle.