Autumn days are with us now but with the consolation of harvesting the sloe berries from the hedgerows to make Sloe Gin for a winter or Christmas treat. Sloe Gin is a delicious deep, dark, mellow liqueur, made from the fruits of the native Blackthorn trees that line the farm hedgerows. They just need a little time and patience (and nerves of steel if the truth be told) to penetrate the vicious sharp spines where the glossiest, plumpest fruits are to be found.
Sloes – an Autumn harvest
This autumn we (I’m using a royal we there as it is actually Charles project and he has the scars to prove it!) made a batch of Sloe gin.
Read on for a simple recipe for a warming Christmas treat. For the best results allow a minimum of two months for it to mature.
Sloe Gin recipe
Step by step…
- Wear heavy duty garden gloves and pick as many sloes as you have patience for. The best ones are normally deep within the thicket of branches or high above your head.
- Ideally pick enough to half fill your chosen bottle of Gin. Purist may want to sterilise the bottle and rinse the berries before proceeding
- Freeze the berries overnight to kill any little bugs and mimic the first frost. This will improve the sweetness of the berries.
For an optional extra, hit the berries to split the skins or laboriously prick with a fork to release the juices
- Add approximately 150 grams of sugar and if liked a couple of drops of almond essence.
- A simple way to measure the ingredients is: – a third gin, a third berries and a third sugar
and then wait!
Now it is a waiting game for the Gin to mature – certainly for two months and purist recommend a year. Keep the gin in a cool dark place, shake the bottle every couple of days to dissolve the sugar.
We may put ours in the car, to gently combine, as we drive around the country lanes!
I’m afraid ours is labelled “drink me at Christmas!” By then it should be the colour of a good red wine and delicious as an aperitif. The first sip will bring back fond memories of blue skies and glossy black autumn berries.
P.S If you like a sweeter Gin, just add more sugar by making a sugar syrup…..
Boil sugar and water together in a pan before cooling and add to taste.