I had my mind set on Sloe Gin


I had sloes on my mind the last two times we drove up to Kent...
On both occasions I went home without them…
My eyes were on honesty boxes by the road, people selling produce from their garden at car boot sales and little blue-ish dots in the trees we drove passed.
The location of sloe trees is a well guarded secret of those who have discovered them on foraging trips. This makes them even more mysterious to me, I just had to have some sloes. I heard stories saying the native British sloe is so very rare it only grows from ancient trees. They look like black olives, and like olives best not eaten straight from the tree. Sloes are very tart and mostly used to make jams to accompany cheese and for making sloe gin…



The sloe or 'Prunus Spinosa' is a berry from the blackthorn. Sloes or blackthorns were planted around the countryside in the 16th and 17th century as hedges around the fields to keep the cattle in. The word 'sloe' comes from the Old English slāh, in Old High German slēha and in Middle Dutch sleuuwe.  
Traditionally when making sloe gin, the berries must be gathered after the first frost and one must prick each berry with a thorn taken from the blackthorn bush. Sloe gin is made by infusing gin with the berries. Sugar is required to ensure the juices are extracted from the fruit. Some swear by freezing the berries before use.

 


But I had no sloes…
Until a lovely lady offered to send me some of the sloes she had gathered to maker her own boozy preserves. I must say I was quite nervous for them to arrive as they are after all perishable. Luckily they weren't reduced to jam and I was able to use them thanks to Claire who froze them for the journey. That same day the sloes would be drowned by Gin...


It is so easy to make, the hard part is keeping yourself from opening it too soon to drink it. I've been told a ten year old sloe gin has a wonderful flavour... so I decided to hide a bottle from myself so I can actually try it. I think I might put it behind my 8 year old cherry brandy I was able to save.
 


To Make you own sloe gin!

What do you need

500g ripe sloes
250g sugar 
1 litre of Gin, I used No.3 London Dry Gin

Method

  • Prick the sloes with a thorn from the tree or a toothpick 
  • Put them in a suitably sized Kilner or jam jar
  • Pour over the sugar and the gin
  • Close the lid
  • Shake and shake every day until the sugar has dissolved
  • Store in a dark cupboard
After 3 months
  •  Strain out the sloes using muslin, bottle and store in a dark cupboard
  • Try to wait 1 to 10 + years before opening a bottle.

    Thank you Claire for the sloes, I will drink to your health when I open a bottle!

You might also like
Cherry brandy
Raspberry vinegar

22 comments:

  1. A wonderful recipe and great gift idea! Your pictures are delightful.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. Sloe is very popular in Hungary. It grows everywhere. If you go on a hiking trip at autumn you will definitely find a couple of sloe trees or bushes and you can forage as many as you want! :)

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    1. you lucky lady!!! I wouldn't stop preserving sloes if they grew here! :)

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  3. There's something terribly fascinating in making spirits, preserves, jams... you use your patience and the best seasonal produce and fight time, saving and hiding the cherished treasures. I just love the feeling of closing a bottle of a jar, putting a label and arranging it prettily on a shelf.
    It makes me feel proud of myself, you know what I mean.
    So, then years from now, we'll taste this sloe gin. I hope I will be able to drink spirits without falling asleep, I have ten years to learn!
    xx

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    1. You can read my mind Giulia, I couldn't have described my feelings better! We will have a sip of the Gin in december! x

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  4. Hmmmm.... I have London Dry Gin sitting in my bar.. meant to be for a friend... I am tempted... But I also don't have sloes :( I might make do with another fruit?

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    1. I think you could try it with blueberries or cranberries. Though with blueberries you might need to add more gin or it will be too sweet :)
      If you try it, let me know how it turnes out! xxx

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  5. Wonderfully traditional and beautiful at the same time!
    Simply beautiful Regula.
    I remeber drinking sloe gin way back when - it was so delicious.

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    1. Can't wait to try it! Thanks Karin xxx

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  6. I LOVE sloe gin. And I love your photo of the sloes even more. SO beautiful.

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  7. My favourite bit of making sloe gin is the walk in the countryside, all cold and frosty, to pick the sloes. I haven't made sloe gin for near on a couple of decades as I've been in the Middle East for so long. Sigh. Beautiful pics as always.

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    1. Thanks Sally :)
      Oh I really want to have that walk with a basket to pick sloes one day!

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  8. Ten years.... O boy... That's a pretty long time to wait for tasting the fruit of your labor! I'm afraid patience is not always my biggest strength butive been wanting to make something strong ever since I was told about marshmallow whiskey I think it was. It is intriguing as Giulia describes so well too! I think I have to start my own project soon!

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    1. Ones you start making booze you can't stop, I have the jars to prove it! :)

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  9. It's easy enough, but gosh, I don't think I can wait 10 years!

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    1. trick is to make a bottle to age, and one to open at christmas or easter :)

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  10. I love the little details like pricking the sloe berries with a thorn from the tree. 10 years does sound like a long time, but what a reward when you get to open it up finally! Good things are worth waiting for, as they say!

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  11. Amazing! I've never seen sloes around, but I'm curious and I'll keep my eyes out! I wonder if they grown in Sweden but are called something else... some sloe sleuthing is clearly in order!

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  12. The Liquineer29/5/13

    You can start to consume the filtered and stored Sloe Gin after 3 or 4 months. It needs to be kept in a cool and dark place to preserve the colour and flavour. It can begin to oxidise and go brown and lose it's fresh flavour if kept to long.
    You can use other stone fruits if you can't get sloes, damsons will work, plums will work as well.

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    1. Thanks for the advise! :)

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  13. Hi Regula, here in provence we have plenty of sloe! I think I'm gonna try this winter. XX

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