If you missed the sloe season, sadly it’s too late for you to make this alcoholic drink now unless you’ve frozen some berries as the hedgerows will be bare. However, if you’ve often thought about making sloe gin and never gotten around to it, I can definitely recommend it as a winter warmer so you might like to add a resolution to your list and head out to the quiet, rural laneways in the autumn!
First things first, you don’t have to like gin to enjoy this drink. The berries take away almost all traces of its usual, distinctive taste.
They are apparently much better if they’ve experienced a good frost which will split the berries skins and help to release their flavours. If, like our last autumn/winter, the weather is mild with no frosts in sight, pop the berries into your deep freeze overnight to imitate the process.
Mr G scoured the internet looking for a recipe three months ago and his favourite was the one over on The Guardian Lifestyle section. He adjusted the measurements slightly, multiplying everything by 1.4 which has resulted in us having a little over two, 70cl bottles of sloe gin in the cupboard.
To make a similar measure carefully pick 700g of sloes (beware, the thorns on the bushes are lethal) then wash and prick each one with a needle. Place them into a demijohn or large kilner jar then cover the berries with 350g of caster sugar and pour over two 70cl bottles of gin (we used cheap gin but the flavour may well be far superior if you splash out and buy the ‘real thing’). Put on the lid and give the jar a good shake. Place in a dark cupboard and every day take it out and give it another good shake, ensuring the lid is firmly on! This will help to mix the berry and gin flavours and dissolve the sugar.
Three months later, strain the sloe mixture through muslin into sterilised bottles. It can be drunk straight away, usually in time for Christmas but is apparently much better if left to age.
If you’re wondering what to do with the strained sloes that have soaked in the gin for several months, Carl Legge has written two delicious sounding recipes for Permaculture.co.uk. One for Sloe Port and another for Sloe Chocolate as well as a third on his blog for Sloe Fridge Jam…. mmmm watch this space!
Have you made alcoholic hedgerow drinks? It’s Mr G’s resolution to make more homemade wines and beer this year, I’ll keep you posted how it goes.