I haven't made any Sloe Gin for a few years, so this year I thought I would put that right. It is incredibly easy to do. Basically, all you do is put a few sloes in a bottle of ordinary Gin and leave it!
On Saturday I did the first bit of the procedure, getting the sloes and the Gin. With the benefit of prior experience, I drove out to a place where I know good sloes are to be had, clutching a big plastic container, wearing old clothes and armed with a big stick. The latter is for beating down stinging-nettles and reaching up for high branches. It's as well I had it with me because I was obviously not the first person to visit that spot: all the low-down fruits had already been picked. However, with the aid of my stick I was able to bend down some of the high-up branches and grab the fruit. They were lovely specimens too - nearly as big as damsons.
A word of warning to anyone who is not familiar with sloes: they are very sour and astringent, not nice to eat raw! Furthermore, they grow on bushes with lots of thorns (the Blackthorn bush!), and are seemingly always surrounded by a defensive ring of luxuriant stinging-nettles (as my tingling hands will confirm).
Anyway, within the space of half an hour I had gathered enough to fill the container I had taken, so back into the car and home via the supermarket to pick up a bottle of cheap Gin. When I got home I weighed the sloes and was surprised to find that I had picked 1.2kgs, which is about twice as many as I need.
Next stage of the proceedings (apart from photographing them, of course) is to wash the fruit and remove any stalks, leaves and other miscellaneous debris. After that I put the fruit in a couple of plastic bags and stuck it in the freezer. It is alleged that sloes are sweeter if you pick them after the first frosts, but if you wait that long there won't be any left, so I thought that putting them in the freezer ought to achieve the same result.
Once the sloes have been frosted overnight (or longer if desired) you marry them up with the gin. Decant half of the gin into another clean empty bottle; add as many sloes as you can fit into the bottles half-full of gin. If you have sufficient patience, you ought to prick each individual sloe with a small knife or suitable pointed implement (I used a bamboo satay skewer), to help the juice to come out. Add a couple of spoonfuls of sugar (to taste), re-seal the bottles and put them somewhere cool. From this point onwards you should try to give the bottles a gentle shake every day or so, to distribute the sloe juice (which seeps out very slowly) around the gin.
|A vague hint of pinkness already...|
I can't show you the finished item just yet. You'll have to wait 8 weeks...