The end of summer approaches. I’ll be back to work soon – which surely will be a shock to the system. What? No outdoor time for six hours a day? Oh my! It’s going to be something else this year, on return to school after lockdown. It’s been a gardener’s delight since late March – despite the quiet apocalypse we’re all experiencing.
Harvest time abounds. Purple beans, tomatoes galore… Flying saucer squashes and tons of ratatouille to devour in all manner of ways: on pasta, on mashed potatoes, pan fried and then coddle eggs in it. You name it, we’re eating our tomatoes and squash in all manner of ways.
Soon it will be sloe season, which is the real mark of the start of autumn proper. But before then, I thought I’d try to preserve the truly magical taste and scent of lemon verbena. Who knew?!? Well, folks, I’m super delighted to let you know that you can make lemon verbena gin in much the same manner as one concocts sloe gin. Oh my!
It’s so easy! Push a few sprigs of freshly trimmed lemon verbena into an empty gin bottle. Place a small funnel at the top and then decant a small wine glass’s worth of bog standard white sugar into the bottle.
Why sugar? Well, sugar is generally speaking a preservative. As is alcohol. But the sugar gives a lovely silky viscosity to the resulting gin nectar.
Pouring gin over the sugar helps dissolve it and then continue to fill until your empty bottle is full. Then you need to vigorously shake the bottle (cap on, yes!) to help dissolve the sugar. After initial filling simply leave the bottle in your kitchen and give it an encouraging little shake every day for a month, then store away and it should be ready to drink by the time of the mid-winter seasonal festivities (also known as Christmas).
I think I’m going to be heading to Sainsbury’s soon to pick up their monster home brand 1.5 litre bottles of gin. And guess what everyone in the neighbourhood’s getting this Christmas from me and Malink? You guessed it – a superb cordial of verbena gin.
The tales of Anne of Green Gables has a great ‘scene’ when Anne gets thoroughly sozzled on her auntie’s fruit cordials. Yummy and fruity and powerfully alcoholic. What fun! There’s an old saying, quoted by many including Hegel himself – in vino veritas – which roughly translates as truth in wine, but more widely is that wisdom can be found in the soft-edged state of mind of that results from the indulgence in a bit of alcohol.
Wine, gin, Campari, Marc de Marc, whiskey, Strega, Jagermeister, ginger wine…. It’s all much of a muchness. (From my list you can see I prefer my alcohol distilled and am no big fan of other yeasty brews such as beer and ale.)
Alcohol, oh alcohol! It all works to open the mind to a bit of wisdom – helps the mind unfold wider and sideways. My old philosophy professor and research pal was a big fan of regular moderate consumption of ‘hooch’ as he affectionately called it, and on particularly difficult days in the British Library or Paris’ Bibliotheque Nationale, recommended a very healthy dose to take the rough corners off life. Needless to say, with German Irish blood mixed in my veins from the start, I can’t say I ever needed much encouragement.