My morning sortie to gather a bowlful of mulberries for breakfast (actually, forget the bowl. Mulberries go directly to mouth) has suddenly got much harder. Autumn’s in the air as I traipse across the dewy grass. The mulberries are fewer.
This isn’t just the fault of the weather. We have some new residents in the garden. A family of moorhens: mum, dad, and five chicks. They like mulberries too. The windfalls that used to be mine, all mine, are now theirs, all theirs. But who could begrudge such charming tenants?
Anyway, I suddenly realised that if we were going to have our much talked-of mulberry gin in time for Christmas, we needed to act. We had a houseful of helpers. Not just Malcolm, but Emily and her boyfriend Miquel, over from Barcelona.
Out came the bowls. Out came the small steps. Out came the team. We stripped the tree of any berries that were ripe enough to fall into our hands, as the moorhen chicks cheeped and protested from their lair in the flowerbed.
The rest was easy. Wash the berries. Half fill an empty bottle with gin. Poke berries into bottle. Add sugar. Argue about whether to follow the recipe that suggests adding a handful of roasted almonds or not. Decide to leave almonds out today, but add them to the next batch. Screw cap on bottle. Shake. Place in cupboard with note to self to shake bottle daily for a couple of weeks, then wait for months. That’s it. Tidy up. Before Christmas we’ll strain off the gin, re-bottle it … and look forward to sampling it on Christmas Day.
Or … if you’re on our Christmas present list, you might get a bottle too.