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It's sloe gin time.....

PaulM

Member
Messages
143
It's that time of year; late October/early November when sloes are perfect for picking. In these 'ere parts this year's crop of sloes is better than average and as I've just started this year's batch I thought I'd share with you what I do. For those who aren't familiar with these berries, sloes are the small, dark, bitter berries of the blackthorn bush. Making sloe gin is easy; you can't burn anything and the only skill you need is patience. If you take the time to make your own, you'll be rewarded with a drink that is far superior to the weak, syrupy stuff you typically find in the supermarket. By the way, the quantities and times below are not at all critical.

You'll need:

  • a clean and empty 1 litre bottle (I use gin bottles)
  • sloes, naturally
  • gin, of course
  • white sugar
  • scales
  • a funnel small enought to fit into the neck of your bottle
  • a small, sharp knife
Pick your sloes from blackthorn bushes in October or November when they are nice and ripe.

Wash them in cold water in a bowl and remove the leaves and other crud you've inadvertantly picked aong with the berries.
  • Take the empty 1 litre bottle and add half fill it with sloes. I'd estimate this requires about 300g or so of sloes. Use the knife to make a small cut in each sloe before dropping it into the bottle -you want to provide an exit route for the juices.
  • Then add approx 120g ordinary white sugar to the bottle. The funnel helps a lot here.
  • Fill the bottle with gin (about 700ml I reckon). Leave a small amount of air in the neck of the bottle as you'll find mixing the contents much easier if you do.
  • For the first week or so, up-end the bottle once a day. During this time the sugar will dissolve fully and you'll start to see the purple colour developing in the gin.
  • Put the bottle in a cool dark place for a few months, upending every week or so (uncritical). Do this for a minimum of 3 months for a decent flavour. In my experience there's little benefit in waiting any longer than 6 months as the flavour is fully developed by then.
  • Strain the sloe gin through muslin into a clean bottle, though if you're careful you don't really need the muslin. That's it.
Bottoms up,

Paul
 
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Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
I think I may have to have a go at some of this! I do a damson vodka quite often, normally to take on my annual pilgrimage to Arnhem, where we meet up with old friends and sit around a campfire, telling stories and getting drunk into the early hours!
 

Pyrografix

Senile Member
Messages
1,026
It really is delish - and very easy. But we've hardly had any sloes this year:(

An alternative to cutting into the flesh of the sloe - which can be quite tedious - is to fast freeze the berries, then beat them up with a rolling pin whilst still in a freezer bag to break the skins. And then drown them in gin etc.

I've currently got rasps and strawberries soaking in vodka and gin (separate bottles!), and brambles doused in brandy. Should be ready in time for Christmas. Hic!
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
All of which reminds me, last years damson gin shouild be ready about now :w00t:. Didn't spot a single damson in the garden this year. Last year it was a struggle to get them picked.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
+1 for all these. Funny, we get sloes here, but they're smaller and earlier. None of the 'wait for the first frost' before picking.

Just one caveat - make sure you know what you're picking...
 

PaulM

Member
Messages
143
Aldevis, as an Italian you surprise me a little. I've always been rather impressed by the Italians I've seen on TV foodie programmes happily foraging for funghi in the woods with what appears to be hardly a care in the world. Is that a myth for the rest of us?

I'm no horticulturalist, but once you've seen a blackthorn bush with sloes on it they are as easily recognisable as a daffodil.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
Aldevis, as an Italian you surprise me a little. I've always been rather impressed by the Italians I've seen on TV foodie programmes happily foraging for funghi in the woods with what appears to be hardly a care in the world. Is that a myth for the rest of us?

I'm no horticulturalist, but once you've seen a blackthorn bush with sloes on it they are as easily recognisable as a daffodil.
My mum does grappas infused with many herbs and roots, but I fear that my poor control of this island's language could make me pick up the wrong berries (wrongberries) and contract an irreversible constipation.
Mushrooms are a different thing. If you are after porcini there is only one poisonous variety, easy to spot.
If you are after the Caesar's mushroom, risks are much higher...

I probably just need someone to show me the actual bush, I am not sure they grow in Central London though.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Unfortunately I've already had ordered a bottle of Adnams own sloe gin from Adnams Online by my dear wife for my birthday next month - shame!

Maybe next year. I've started to notice lots of wild mushrooms in the local woods recently but all that have appearedn so far are in the poisonous/inedible zone.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
My mum does grappas infused with many herbs and roots, but I fear that my poor control of this island's language could make me pick up the wrong berries (wrongberries) and contract an irreversible constipation.
Mushrooms are a different thing. If you are after porcini there is only one poisonous variety, easy to spot.
If you are after the Caesar's mushroom, risks are much higher...

I probably just need someone to show me the actual bush, I am not sure they grow in Central London though.
Yes, here's really nothing in this country that looks much like sloes. Little black plum-like things on a thorny bush.You can spot the bushes in the spring as they tend to flower before they get leaves.

Don't know about central London either but, if they're there, my bet is that very few people will bother to pick them.

Mushrooms, on the other hand...
My (Polish) dad used to take us out gathering them when I was a kid. But he just used to accept/reject what we picked without explaining the difference. Wouldn't attempt it now without some serious study.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Unless sloes are rather old, they should have a whiteish bloom, just like some grapes.
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,910
All this talk of slo-gin, my mother in law, God bless her made some just befor my Daughter was born (11 years ago now) we cracked it apen at about 6.. jeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzz!!!!!!!!! what a seriously God awfull taste, absolutely vile stuff, chucked it away.
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,312
All this talk of slo-gin, my mother in law, God bless her made some just befor my Daughter was born (11 years ago now) we cracked it apen at about 6.. jeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzz!!!!!!!!! what a seriously God awfull taste, absolutely vile stuff, chucked it away.
G&T ,wedge of lime,loads of ice,OHHHHHHHH i'm exited now.
 

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
Its also important that you will get a much better flavour if the sloes have first been subjected to a heavy frost. If that hasn't been possible, pop them in the freezer overnight before using them. It releases certain enzymes that improve the fruit and also the Gin.

However, this doesn't just apply to Gin as a recipe. Sloe Vodka and Sloe Whisky are other alternatives.

Last year we had a glut of sloes in the orchard and made copius amounts of all three (still sipping now) and even gave quite a quantity away! This year, haven't had any sloes at all, but then all the soft fruits have struggled this year. Only two little greengages out of three trees; hardly any blackberries and just one tub of raspberries picked. Hope next year is better!
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
I seem to remember there was a late frost that killed a lot of blossom this year. Last hear we had about 5lbs of morello cherries form our tree. This year we had 3 (that's cherries, not pounds).

(I'm really only posting this to show off how early I had to get up for the RNCM sax day)
 

Corona4007

Member
Messages
69
Love Gin and glad to now know what a sloe gin is.......I usually have to go sloe after a few with Corona chasers...........:cheers:
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
My Italian in-laws say that you can tell if a mushroom is poisonous by cooking it with garlic. It's poisonous if it turns green, apparently. My father-in-law also thinks his wine is palatable, though, so I am happy to purchase mushrooms from places that I trust to know what they're selling.
 
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