‘Tis the season to be getting your Cranberry Gin going! Now that we’re done with the Sloe Gin. And before January, when you can get started on Rhubarb Gin with the forced rhubarb that’ll start appearing.
I’ve started seeing fresh cranberries these last couple of weeks, so this is the perfect time to get your Cranberry Gin started, if you don’t happen to have some in the freezer from last Christmas!
Making your cranberry gin now will give you just over a month of steeping, perfect for serving during the holidays, and more importantly, it’ll make a super Christmas gift!
I know that many of you have been following all the alcohol infusions I’ve been making this past year or so. By now, you should all be pros at it (if you weren’t before), and there probably isn’t anything left for me to teach you!
So what shall we talk about then?
I’m kidding! I shall still talk you through the whole process and perhaps discuss the odd point or two, as usual.
Cranberry Gin Recipe
Initially, for this post, I was tempted to make a fancy schmancy cranberry gin with all the trimmings. I thought about adding more flavours to the gin with perhaps some apple, citrus and rosemary.
But in the end, I decided to strip it right down to just the cranberries and the gin. The only allowance I made was to add a vanilla pod to it. Because I so enjoyed the flavour the 2 other times I used it in the Raspberry Gin and Strawberry and Rhubarb Vodka. And I’m glad I did.
So this is what you need to make Cranberry Gin:
- Frozen Cranberries (more on why we freeze, below)
- White Sugar
- Vanilla Pod
Only 4 ingredients, the way I make it. Crazy, right? You can always add a little citrus peel to it, or even slices of lemon and/or lime. Just remember, less is more.
How to make Cranberry Gin?
Just close your eyes, it’s that easy! All we do:
- Soak the frozen cranberries in the gin
- Add sugar
- Leave to steep for a minimum 4 weeks
- Strain through a fine mesh sieve, with or without muslin. Using a muslin will give you a crystal clear drink.
What does Cranberry Gin taste like?
It’s fruity, and not only a touch sweet, but also, with a definite hit of cranberry bitter. The vanilla adds just the merest hint of mellow creaminess to it, barely discernible.
Cranberries, as you, know, are naturally bittersweet. The first time I made Cranberry Gin, I went with my usual 400g (14oz) of sugar. The resulting drink was a bit sickly sweet, and this is from someone who likes her drinks sweet!
Therefore, the next time I made it, I halved the amount of sugar, which turned out to be just right. If you don’t like sweet drinks, you could start out with just 100g (3.5oz) sugar. Then add more before straining. You will be tasting your gin in the last week to ensure that it has enough sugar.
Our Christmas Gin Ingredients
Good Quality Gin
Get the best gin you can afford to make your cranberry gin. That goes for all your homemade infused liqueurs. Cheap gin will give you cheap tasting cranberry gin.
That doesn’t mean that you have to pay top dollar, do a little research to see what’s good in your price range. Like wine you plan to cook with, get something that you will enjoy drinking on its own and doesn’t taste like rubbish. I’m happy to use a good quality London Dry Gin.
Cranberries for your Gin
As mentioned above, fresh cranberries are beginning to appear around now. If you can find frozen ones, even better, as we will be freezing them overnight before using. I had the foresight last year to freeze 3 bags of cranberries, after being caught out.
I needed some in October for a menu I was making, and couldn’t find any. Not even frozen ones. Learnt my lesson, and will always have them in the freezer from now on!
Why Freeze the Cranberries?
Freezing the cranberries will soften and even split the skin. This allows the gin to seep into the fruit and for the flavour to leach out of the fruit. The alternative is to prick the cranberries before using. Every. Single. One.
Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?
How long will Cranberry Gin Keep?
The strained gin will keep for up to a year, during which, the taste will improve. I’m not sure it noticeably improves after 2-3 months, but many claim infused liqueurs do. There is only one way to find out – make lots and lots of it! And get back to me!
Red Gin Cocktails
You can serve your cranberry gin in so many different ways, just like a regular, non infused gin, or rhubarb gin.
One of my favourite ways to drink it is neat, in little shot or sherry glasses, as an apéritif.
Other ways to enjoy your Cranberry Gin:
Cranberry Gin and Tonic
Seems easy enough, doesn’t it?
- 1 or 2 measures of our Red Christmas Gin
- top with as much or as little tonic as you like (usually just a measure for me)
- add a slice of lemon
I would experiment with different tonic waters. One of my favourite tonic waters with Cranberry Gin is Lamb & Watt’s Basil Tonic Water.
With anything that fizzes! Prosecco is always great. As is champagne. Soda water – not so much!
- 1 or 2 measures of Cranberry Gin
- top with as much or as little prosecco as you like (I like lots!)
- add a slice of lemon/lime and a herb like rosemary, mint or basil.
What to do with the gin soaked cranberries?
- Make a gin flavoured cranberry sauce for Christmas!
- Have it with ice cream, make a layered sundae with it
- Have it with pancakes
Sterilising Jars and Bottles for our Christmas Gin
- Turn the oven on to a cool 130˚C/250˚F/Gas Mark ½.
- Wash the jars, bottles and lids in hot soapy water.
- Place the jars, bottles and lids upside down in the oven and leave them to dry, with the door closed for 15 minutes.
- Turn the oven off and leave the jars, bottles and lids in there, bringing them out only when you are ready to fill. Be careful, as they’ll be hot.
More Alcohol Infusions on LinsFood
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Christmas Cranberry Gin (A Red Christmas Gin)
- 400 g frozen cranberries
- 1 litre good quality gin
- 200 g white sugar
- 1 vanilla pod halved
If the cranberries are not frozen, place them in the freezer overnight, and get your infusion going the next day.
- Place the cranberries, gin, 100g of the sugar and the vanilla pod into a large, sterilised jar, and give it a good stir.
- Cover and place in a dark place for a minimum of 1 month. I place mine in a kitchen cupboard. Stir it every other day, or as often as you remember to! About every 2-3 days, I squash some of the cranberries with the back of a spoon, when I'm stirring the mix. You can leave them whole, if you like, especially if you are planning to use the cranberries after.
- At the end of 3 weeks, taste it, and add more sugar if you think it needs it. Steep it for another week, at least. If you have the patience, go for another month for a deeper flavour.
- To drink, strain through a sieve or, if you like a crystal clear gin, strain though a double layer of muslin or cheese cloth into a sterilised bottle. Store in a dark cupboard as you would your other drinks.