Well last weekend I successfully made my first tipple of Sloe Gin! It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday and I can't WAIT to taste it while my chestnuts are roasting on a chilly December eve. Christmas will never be the same without this lovely wintry Liqueur and it's a lovely way to enjoy our bountiful hedgerows. It's far more satisfying to enjoy something you've gathered / made yourself than to get it from Tesco and I've no doubt this autumnal ritual will become a firm favourite in our household. It's easy to prep, easy to make AND you can blot out Xmas with it! (if need be). So get the kids off their phones, grab your baskets (guys - your plastic containers) and enjoy a day in the wilderness together!
Note - Sloe gin is a sweet berry liqueur and can be enjoyed on the rocks OR with a mixer ... perhaps Soda water or sparkling wine Kir Royale-style, so don't be put off if you don't like Gin. I don't but I do LOVE this drink.
Where to pick Sloe Berries ...
Sloe trees are everywhere right now. Try edges of parks / fields. Just look up and you'll see LOADS of almost black berries with dusty skins in the trees. That's them. They taste horrible but that's normal - promise.
When to pick Sloe Berries ...
We are usually told to pick Sloe berries AFTER first frost as it sweetens the sour-tasting berries and splits their skin a little. However the sloes are ripening as we speak, so we need to act fast before the birdies (or Miggins) gets to them first. So rather than wait for the frost, if they're ripe (should feel like squeezing a tiny plum) then pick, wash and pop them in the freezer overnight instead to get the same effect. Otherwise, wait until the frost.
Sloe gin ingredients:
Gin or Vodka
1 or 2 Large kilner jars
Bottles (not needed until December)
For each pound of fruit add 8oz of sugar and a pint of gin / vodka. Don't worry about proportions too much as you can add more sugar or spirit later. To give you a rough idea ... I made enough for 3 pint bottles. This took 2 x 75lL bottles of Gin and 2 X large Kilner jars. If you have to split your mixture into 2 jars just make sure you distribute the ingredients evenly.
1. Pick roughly the amount of berries you need (as we need to leave some for birdies!)
2. Give them a good rinse and pop them in the freezer.
3. The next day, measure out all your ingredients and once defrosted, put your berries / sugar / gin into your kilner and leave it until Christmas!
Tip: Store the jar where you can see it as you'll need to give the bottle a shake every couple of days. It must be left at LEAST three months but the longer the better.
Let the festivities begin!
When it's ready, strain off the sloes and bottle the gin. Add nice labels and tags and VOILA! lovely
homemade christmas presents for your nearest and dearest, Miggins at 93 and you of course : )
Note: Don't throw the berries away. They can make a great alternative to Cranberry Jelly or liquor choccies and my green-fingered friend Dina also says they're scrumptious with just ice-cream! (err adults only mind, unless you want boozy toddlers running around.)
Go forth and forage people!
|Ralphy sulking cos' he's not allowed to eat them.|
For more info on how to tell when Sloe's are ripe for picking, click here.