Monthly Archives: September 2010

Blueberry Vodka

Not all Sugarloafers were foolish with their entire Fraughan harvest. As far as we know, at least one handful of these delicious wild Wicklow berries made their way into the bottom of a bottle of triple distilled voldka. So far they seem to be doing well.

Initially the bobbed at the surface a bit, but soon enough they gave up the ghost ( or should that be spirit?) and settled gently to the bottom. Since then they have been slowly yielding their goodness into the crystal clear drop with this fantastic colour change slowly diffusing upwards. It has been a titanic struggle not to shake the lot up! And so they will rest, another month or two before sampling. Will keep the world posted on this one……

Hedgerow Jelly

Hedgerow Jelly

It’s all out there and free, ya just gotta pick it! This recipe uses 7 of our common hedgerow crops. They seem to be nicer if they have grown within sight of The Sugarloaf Mountain, but that could just be bloggers bias?! All told this yields about 4lbs jelly, so make sure to have enough jars to hand, before you start.

You’ll need to forage freely for the following:

8oz (225g) Wild Rosehips
8oz ( 225g) Hawthorn Berries
8oz (225g) Rowanberries
8oz (225g) Sloes
1lb ( 450g) Blackberries
1lb ( 450g) Elderberries
1lb ( 450g) Crab Apples/Cooking Apples ( … we cheated and used cookers!)
Water to cover
Lemon juice as per method
Sugar as per method

Remove any stalks and leaves to try and just have clean dry fruit. Do not rinse, just pick nice clean fruit to begin with from quiet country laneways or field boundaries ( best to avoid busy motorway verges!)
Place all of the fruit in a large pan, barely cover with water and boil vigourously until the fruit is soft, this should take about 30 mins. Allow to stand for 10 mins and pour it all into a muslin or jelly bag or even a clean tea towel and hang the pulp over a deep bowl and allow to drain overnight.

Next day place your empty, washed and rinsed lidless jars in the oven upside down and sterilise them at 100 °C for 20 mins. Allow them to cool down on a cake cooling rack. Measure the juice and allow juice of 1 lemon, and 1lb (450g) sugar for every 1pt ( 600ml) liquor. Put all of this into a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. At this point boil rapidly to reach setting point in about 20 mins or use a sugar thermometer and make sure you reach 105 °C. Setting point can also be judged by your granny’s method of pouring a little of the jam mixture onto a cold saucer and leaving to cool. Once this has cooled (after a minute or two) run your finger across the top of the jam and if a skin has formed and the jam wrinkles it has reached setting point. If it stays runny and no skin is present then simply boil for a little longer, or not. Note: Runny jam is not the worst thing in the world…. It just spreads easier!
Pour into the still warm jars and cover with greaseproof paper discs. This should keep for 3 months, but you will have eaten it by then!

Thanks to Eileen H. for this….

A Pressing Matter…

A fun day of chopping, squashing, pressing and bottling is promised for ‘Loafers and others on Sunday 10th October next, at Brooklodge, Macreddin. Co. Wicklow.  For information on times and  booking a place contact  The plan is for you to gather as many apples as you can, of as many varieties as you like, bring your own hardware, and we’ll have a communal pressing and tasting!

The interweb is awash with suggestions on how to keep and store your juice, and if you just hang onto a few plastic water bottles, get yourself down to your chemist for some citric acid, or scrub out a few demi-johns you’ll be well on the way to making more from your windfalls.

You will need to bring  apples,  a few buckets, bottles , a few cloths, some muslin(?),  citric acid/ lemon juice, demi-johns, corks, a sieve, a cutting board, a knife, peeler, a corer maybe and some labels and a pen. Come to think of it, just leave the sink at home… Try if you can to get the name of any apple varieties you’ll have with you.

We will also have some sloe-gin making on the go that day, so if you are passing any sloes make sure to grab a half kilo or so (gloves advised) and bring some sugar and a half bottle of gin along. This should be ready for Christmas.

So make that call, pop over to see your Auntie with the apple trees in her garden… she’ll be delighted to see you, and she’ll be delighted that you’ll be using her surplus apples. Sure you might even drop her in a bottle or two of juice!

For more information contact