Hedgerow Vodka is a delicious liqueur made from the berries you can gather in the hedgerows of Britain. It is really easy to make and a bottle of Hedgerow Vodka makes a great gift for Christmas and the Holidays.
Why make Hedgerow Vodka?
At the end of every summer, I pick berries from the hedgerows around our farm. Blackberries (Brambles) are the most prolific berries and there are lots of different recipes to make with these sweet berries. As I gather the blackberries I also see other wild fruits ripening. It seems a waste to leave them there but they are more challenging to turn into something edible. Hedgerow Vodka is the ideal way to combine these fruits and create a drink that is a real taste of the countryside.
What fruits can I use in Hedgerow Vodka?
I really find foraging in the hedgerows quite irresistible, all those glowing berries and fruits. We are fortunate to live on a farm with traditional hedgerows surrounding grass meadows. In the spring and summer, the hedges are bright with flowers and in autumn they are packed with fruit just waiting to be picked. Here are the fruits I use for Hedgerow Vodka:
- Hawthorn berries
What are blackberries?
Blackberries are the fruit of a usually prickly bush that is part of the rose family. Each individual ripe blackberry is made up of 20-50 single seeds known as drupelets that are small, juice-filled, and deep purplish-black colour when ripe.
How do I pick blackberries?
If you’ve never picked wild blackberries or brambles, then here are a few tips to help you with your foraging and avoid disappointment.
- Blackberries are at their best towards the end of summer, peaking in August and early September.
- You will find blackberries in woods, hedges, roadside verges, and possibly even your garden.
- Do not trespass on private property, always ask if you see blackberries in an area that looks private.
- Don’t pick blackberries close to a busy road as the berries will be covered in pollution from exhaust fumes.
- Pick only berries that are fully black and shiny. Mature berries are plump yet firm, a deep black colour, and pull free from the plant without a yank. Berries do not ripen after being picked.
What are sloes?
Sloes are the fruit of the Blackthorn, a small thorny native tree that has white flowers in spring followed by oval back fruits. The Blackthorn has fierce spines and was a popular hedging plant but most hedges in Scotland are now hawthorn. We have one remaining stretch of old blackthorn hedge on our farm where I pick sloes each year.
What are rosehips?
Rosehips are the fruit of the dog rose. They are probably the most difficult to gather in our hedgerow as the wild dog roses get cut back by the hedge cutter and only produce a few flowers and fruits. As I child I remember collecting huge bags of rosehips that were sent to make rosehip syrup. Rosehip syrup is very high in Vitamin C and children enjoyed a spoonful of this sweet syrup as a vitamin supplement.
What are haws?
Haws are the fruit of the hawthorn. The berries turn a deep vermillion red and look glorious. However, haws are very tart in flavour and the only other recipe I know of for haws is hawthorn jelly which is served with game such as venison or pheasant. Use the haws in Hedgerow Vodka to add to the complexity of the flavours, it definitely makes a difference.
What are elderberries?
You may be more familiar with elderflowers, the frother creamy white flowers of the elder tree. Elderflowers make a popular cordial and have a sweet floral flavour. Elderberries are what follows if you leave the elderflowers to mature. The dark purple berries have an intense flavour and are often used to make country wines. I didn’t include elderberries in this batch of Hedgerow Vodka but they do make a great addition to the vodka.
How do I decide how much of each berry to include in my Hedgerow Vodka?
It is important to balance the flavours of your liqueur. I like to have a higher proportion of blackberries and sloes and then add in smaller quantities of haws, rosehips and elderberries. However, the final balance is very much about how much of each berry you have managed to find and your own personal taste.
Can I freeze the berries?
Yes, all of these berries can be frozen and kept until you are ready to make the Hedgerow Vodka. Sloes and haws can be ripe later than blackberries, elderberries and rosehips, so it makes sense to freeze some of the fruits until the others are ready.
It’s a good idea to freeze the sloes as freezing helps to soften the tough skins of the sloes to let the flavours come through and be infused into the spirit.
Can I use other spirits?
I use vodka because it has very little flavour of its own and therefore lets the flavour of the berries come through. Gin is a good alternative and Sloe Gin is a very popular drink. You can also use whisky or brandy but both of these have a distinctive taste that may dominate your liqueur. Do try different spirits and see which you prefer.
How to make Hedgerow Vodka
I use frozen blackberries and sloes along with rosehips with their seeds removed and hawthorn berries. You can change the proportions of the fruit creating slightly different flavours and to match what you can gather.
I used granulated sugar, but you can use caster (superfine) sugar but not icing (confectioners) sugar. The granulated sugar dissolved easily within a few days.
Please drink responsibly
I had a bit of a moment at the supermarket when I bought the vodka. You don’t need to buy expensive vodka to make this, so there I was at the checkout and all that was in my trolley was a bottle of cheap vodka. Also in my basket were six individual ready-meals that I had bought as backup rations for my mother-in-law! I’m surprised the checkout assistant didn’t call Alcoholics Anonymous. At this point I should say, please drink responsibly, despite the fruit and sugar, this is still 40% proof vodka.
and that’s all there is to it, all the flavours of the hedgerow preserved in a warming and delicious drink to bring a little warmth and sunshine into the cold winter days.
What does Hedgerow Vodka tase like?
Of course, I had to do a bit of a taste test, just for quality control purposes you understand. Hedgerow Vodka has a rich, round flavour, it has a bit of tannic dryness, like red wine.
How do I serve Hedgerow Vodka?
Serve Hedgerow Vodka as an after-dinner drink for serious sipping. It is also good as a base for a prosecco cocktail or serve diluted with tonic or soda water. Hedgerow Vodka is an ideal gift for Christmas or any other occasion, simply put it in a pretty bottle and add a label.
More Hedgerow Drinks Recipes
More homemade liqueurs recipes
- Cranberry Infused Gin – Supper in the Suburbs
- Homemade Blackcurrant Cassis – Hedgecombers
- Pomegranate & Vanilla Vodka – Ren Behan
PIN FOR LATER
- 450 g of mixed blackberries sloes, rosehips and hawthorn berries (I used approximately 150 g blackberries, 200 g sloes and about 50 g each of rosehips and haws)
- 225 g granulated sugar
- 1 litre vodka
- Place the fruit and berries into a large jar with a lid which is watertight.
- Add the sugar and the vodka.
- Close the jar seal tightly and shake well.
- Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake every other day for a week, then shake once a week for at least two months. Keep for up to a year for an even better drink, if you have the patience!
- Strain the vodka through muslin or a coffee filter into sterilised bottles.