Our sloe gin and damson vodka have been strained, bottled and are now winking at us with temptation from the drinks shelf. What’s left behind looks much less appetising – old, shrivelled, wrinkly and full of booze. No, we didn’t invite Keith Richards round to help with the bottling process, we’re talking about the used sloes and damsons. But, much like the aforementioned axe-grinder, there’s still a gig or two left in the old fruit yet. Rich has already snaffled the sloes for a drop of slider* so I get to play with the damsons. And here are my top five suggestions…
1. Another spirit infusion
There will be enough damson flavour to repeat the infusion process with another spirit. Probably best to move on to a stronger flavoured, dark drink such as brandy, rum or my choice this year – whisky (but please use the cheapest blend you can find or the single malt police will nab you).
2. Fortified ‘port’
Some folk create fortified port style wines by soaking the fruit and 100g sugar in a bottle of red wine for a few months (make sure the vessel you use is filled to the top to prevent oxidistaion). When ready add 100 to 200ml of brandy to bring it to your desired booziness and taste. Or you could try drowning them in sherry and skip the brandy phase.
For an extravagant chocolate liqueur, remove the stones, mix into melted chocolate and allow to set before wolfing down with glee.
Remove stones. Blitz in blender. Pour over ice cream.
5. Puddings, biscuits and cakes
Remove stones and use the chopped fruit as a substitute for dried fruit in anything from flapjacks to spotted dick.
*Slider is a sloe-in-cider infusion. The damson-in-cider version has the rather ridiculous moniker ‘damder’ or ‘dumpy’ (damson + scrumpy).
**Admittedly my use of white chocolate set in the ice cube tray and photographed with a camera on the wane hasn’t made the most appetising image, but I can promise it tastes fantastic.