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Fig Leaf Gin

Fig Leaf Gin

It might sound a little odd, but this is a heavenly liqueur that’s well worth the small effort. Fig leaves are easy to find over the back fences in summer, particularly if you do the smart thing and live in a suburb of Melbourne that’s been a Greek and Italian stronghold for generations. And nobody will mind if you take a few leaves.

I’ve (slightly) adapted a recipe published by Beshlie Grimes in ‘Making Wines Liqueurs and Cordials’; she says she had it from a Portuguese friend. She mixes hers with pineapple juice and ice but I much prefer it made strong, aged, and drunk neat.

Things I’ve learned about this liqueur over the past few years :

  • Don’t be afraid to go bold. Use big leaves. Boil it hard as directed, and squeeze the leaves out when it’s cool. The strongest version I ever made was a grassy shade of green, tasted far too strong when first made, and won a first prize in a local show. Pale yellow versions seemed better at first, but tasted wimpy down the track.
  • Age it. Beshlie asks for a month. Six months is great, two years is heaven, I’ve never got any further than that! Make a lot and stick it away somewhere. The first time around, I’d recommend sticking to one recipe – then when you’re confident, quadruple it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) water
  • 7 large fig leaves, washed
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) dry gin. Not terrible gin: not your most ethereally fragranced gin either. The flavour of the gin will come through, but as a background bass note. A good whack of juniper is great – light floral notes will be lost. I tend to go with Gordon’s.

Method:

  • Clean a funnel and a 750ml bottle.
  • Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the fig leaves and bring to a rolling boil. Leave it there for 15-20 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. With clean hands, squeeze and discard the fig leaves.
  • Decant the syrup into a 750ml bottle and add the gin. Top up slightly with water if it doesn’t fill the bottle.

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4 thoughts on “Fig Leaf Gin”

  • Just wondering if it matters what type of fig tree the leaves come from? The tree I have access to grows green figs as opposed to the purple ones.
    Thanks, Erin

    • Hi Erin, so far I’ve never noticed any huge difference between varieties, just that mature leaves seem to do better as the flavour is more pronounced. I just use the leaves that are on my tree, which is a Preston Prolific. Happy liqueur making, I’d love to hear how you go!

  • Hi. Thanks for the recipe. I’ve been using it for a couple of years with leaves from my Black Mission Fig tree. Delicious! You are right that late season leaves have significantly more flavor. This year, I tried a combo of partially dried (a few days) and freshly picked leaves. The flavor is amazing! The dried leaves bring some tannins which are really delightful. As I was bottling it last night, I got overwhelmingly delicious scents of cinnamon and anise. YUM!

    • Hi Julie, thanks for letting me know that it’s going well, I’m so glad this recipe has been a keeper for you! I have never tried using dried leaves before, I must run an experimental batch sometime soon. The leaves on my Preston Prolific are green and it’s hard to wait until they are really mature.

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