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Blackberries are growing in profusion along the river and the railway line. I can't resist picking them. Mixed with a little sugar and some vodka, you get a delicious liqueur to enjoy during the winter. It makes a great home-made Christmas gift.

This is one of the easiest ways to preserve soft fruit - no boiling jam pans on a hot day, and no freezer space needed.

Step 1: Ingredients

500 g blackberries
100 g sugar
About 500 ml vodka
Strip of lemon peel

Step 2: Fill the Jar

Put the fruit and sugar in layers in a preserving jar. Add vodka to cover. Shake every so often on the first day to dissolve the sugar.

Store in a dark place for about a month.

Step 3: Filter the Liqueur

Strain the liquid into a clean dry bottle through a layer of paper towel. Seal and label.

Step 4: Enjoy!

Serve in small glasses - it isn't that high in alcohol but it is full of flavour and quite sweet.

It is delicious mixed with sparkling wine.

It is a lovely addition to desserts such as trifle.

You can make similar liqueurs from any kind of berry. Raspberries are particularly nice, and the product is a beautiful ruby red colour. Black currants need more sugar.

It keeps for ages - I have kept it a year, when I lost the bottle in the back of the cupboard!

<p>I make a similar liqueur using brandy as the base spirit. It is still quite strong.</p><p> Starting with 40% abv( alcohol by volume) if you get a 20% increase in volume the resulting liqueur is still 33%abv hence it keeps and doesn't go off</p>

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