As the nights draw in, and that fresh autumnal air starts to form, it always reminds me of the many times I collected sloes with my granddad. This year is not going to be particularly good for sloes in some areas, as it's been so wet, but on the whole we seem to be at the beginning of a proper autumn for a change so I have decided to put down into words a little ‘sloe gin' recipe for you.
Blackthorn, Prunus spinosa, produces small, round bluish-black fruits which begin to appear in early summer and ripen by October time, traditionally picked after the first frosts. The frost sweetens the sloes as they ripen further, but placing them in the freezer will do an equally good job. Now some will recommend pricking each sloe before you begin, but if frozen first, you will notice the skins should split and save this tedious job.
So, what will you need I hear you ask? Read on.
Now, I personally don't use as much sugar as I have stated here, I don't like the liqueur type flavour and prefer a less sweet brew.
1. Prick or freeze the sloes and put in a large sterilised jar.
2. Pour in the sugar and the gin, seal tightly and shake well, very well until the sugar begins to dissolve.
3. Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake then turn the jar every other day for a week or so. Then shake once a week until ready
4. The sloe gin will turn a lovely, almost claret colour and if made in October it will be ready on Christmas Eve to enjoy by a roaring fire with a selection of cheeses.