In autumn we make our own special liqueur which we’ve named ‘Bellis gin’.
The recipe is adapted from the traditional English Sloe Gin recipe, which uses the fruit of the Sloe bush, Prunus spinosa. The Sloe is a prickly, deciduous, small-leaved, native shrub that’s related to plum. Rarely cultivated, the fruit ripen in autumn and have a highly astringent flavour, hence the added sugar. Together they form a delicious, fruity liqueur.
Australia has the unique Davidson’s plum, a small, upright, rare and very ancient tree surviving in pockets of uncleared east coast rainforest in NSW and Qld. The NSW Herbarium recognises two to three species, Davidsonia pruriens, D. jerseyana and D. johnsonii in the Cunoniaceae family. They all produce astringent, plum-like autumn fruits. Davidsonia pruriens is commonly used to make conserves.
Never throw away the seed – grow your own. Remove any remaining flesh from the seed, rinse in water and then sow immediately in fresh propagating mix. Keep moist. Seeds germinate in mid to late spring.
Davidson’s plums like regular watering in dry weather and thrive in compost-rich, well drained soil. Shelter and semi-shade are important. My oldest Davidson plum started fruiting at three years old. Old trees produce a few kilos of fruit each year.
Trees grow slowly and their beautiful foliage makes them great houseplants or small, distinctive courtyard trees.
To each litre of gin add:
100 ml (equivalent by volume) of chopped Davidson’s plum;
100 g castor sugar;
Remove the flat Davidson’s plum seeds. Chop fruit into bite-sized morsels. Add plums and sugar to the gin. Invert the bottle until the sugar dissolves. Wait three months and your liqueur is ready…
21st April 2008