Posted: Friday 15 August 2014
by Kate Bradbury
For the last 10 years, my mum has made plum vodka for the Big Boxing Day Family Party, using plums from her Victoria plum tree.
For the last 10 years, my mum has made plum vodka for the Big Boxing Day Family Party, using plums from her Victoria plum tree. Despite being a relatively short-lived tradition, the family embraced it: we talked of vintage years, lamented the cold spring of 2012 that killed the blossom and made us go thirsty that Christmas, and teased my mum for her refusal to do anything about the brown rot. It mummified an increasing number of plums each year and made harvesting quite unpleasant.
Mum moved house last month, and the brown rot is now someone else’s problem. But our mini, silly family tradition was in jeopardy: what would we do for plum vodka now?
The answer lies on my allotment, in the form of a large, mature plum tree. The ‘plums’ are actually greengages, and I’ve been eating them on every visit to the allotment for the last three weeks. They’re small, soft and sweet – but would they make good vodka? And am I ready to take on such a responsibility?
Mum gave me her recipe, which involves gently heating plums with sugar, popping them into Kilner jars, covering them in vodka and storing them in a cool, dark room for two months. She gave me strict instructions to 'shake the Kilner jars once a week' and talk to her again when it’s time to decant the drink.
An assortment of Kilner jars seemed far too much work for me, so I borrowed a friend’s mash tun. I harvested seven pounds of greengages, found some caster sugar at the back of a cupboard and bought six litres of vodka – enough for eight wine bottles of Boxing Day nectar. (Not nearly enough, according to Mum.)
After making the vodka, my mum would fish out the vodka-soaked plums and bottle them in brandy. I’ve never been brave enough to eat one and I won’t be doing the same with my greengages – when Mum brings out the plums in brandy most relatives take it as a sign that they should be getting home.
I’m hoping my plum vodka has a distinctive green hue, and that it will be as sweet and intoxicating as my mum’s pink version. The family tradition lives on, but I think I prefer making jam. I’ll be buying mum a plum tree for Christmas.
28/08/2014 at 20:52
We haven't tried plum vodka in our house yet but have jars of raspberry/blackcurrant gin and gooseberry vodka on the go.
Plum vodka sounds lovely but are there any other spirits that can be used with good results? My brandy is too good and too expensive to add cherries to.
28/08/2014 at 21:27
I used a cheep but reputable brand of vodka for damson vodka.after two years it was more like a liqueur.so VERY STRONG....
.. hmmmm BEAUTIFUL !
29/08/2014 at 09:25
We made sloe vodka by 'mistake' one year when we ran out of gin. Since then we've made it every year... it is Fantastic. We use wild damsons from the hedgerow - they're a sloe / damson cross and just brilliant.
02/09/2014 at 11:19
All sounds delicious! I shook my vodka this morning...it's definitely taking on a green tint so I'm so far very happy!
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02/09/2014 at 11:41
I've a load of lovely blue-black plums so as well as jam I'm going to have a go at bottling some in spiced brandy, as per the River Cottage recipe here http://tallcloverfarm.com/4738/plums-in-a-jar-spicy-spirited-keepers