Welcome again avid reader,
Due to a very wet spring followed by a wet July, and a fantastic August, we have an abundant crop of Sloes this year. Sloes are the fruit of the Blackthorn shrubs, and when ready to pick, show a white-ish blush on the otherwise deep purple berries.
These plum-like berries are very bitter, and are only used in Jams and preserves or as a core ingredient in Sloe Gin.
Traditionally you should wait for the first frost, or even place them in the freezer overnight, but after experimentation over the last couple of years I can categorically state that this seems to have no effect whatsoever, and just appears to be folklore!
My ‘Dengie’ recipe is as follows;
- 1 x empty screw-top wine bottle (or bottle with a cork that removes easy… e.g. Port, Sherry or Pineau)
- Fresh Sloes
- 1 x Small Wine Glass of Sugar (normal granulated is fine)
- Clean and rinse the target bottle.
- 1/2 fill with Gin (use a half-decent Gin for best results)
- Tip the wine glass of sugar into the bottle
- Wash the Sloes
- Pierce the Sloes with a fork (a ‘Silver’ one is not mandatory – despite folklore!) and place in bottle till the Gin and Sloes reach halfway up the neck of the bottle.
Note: If the Gin reaches the neck before the Sloes, tip some away (into the next bottle obviously!) as the Sloes and Gin should reach the neck of the bottle at the same time.
- Shake the bottles vigorously once a day for the first week (the sugar will settle, so try to get it evenly mixed)
- After Week 1, shake weekly
- Wait for at least 3 months then decant the Gin (minus the berries and any sediment – I use a fine mesh sieve lined with muslin cloth) into fresh bottles
Sloe Gin is best served as a sipping aperitif in shot-glasses, or over ice for a longer drink (or carried in a hip-flask for those cold winter mornings!).
I’m told that the boozy-Sloes can be used to make an interesting Jam/Jelly afterwards, but I haven’t tried this myself yet!
Hello again avid reader, here is a brief update to this post: Try adding a few crushed Damson’s to the mix to make it a bit sweeter and richer, or even replace the Gin with Vodka (again, a ‘good’ one!) to make Sloe Vodka.