Friday, 25 September 2009

Sloe Gin

Oh yes.. I have been busy. Over the past couple of weeks I have spent a couple of days picking things in the local hedgerows. These mainly consisted of blackberries, which now seem to be coming to their end, wild rosehips, and of course, sloes. I have never attempted to make sloe gin before, and was slightly dismayed to learn that it's best enjoyed some 18 months after making. Still, I keep telling myself that if I make a couple of bottles, I'll be able to save one to sample next year.

If you are thinking of doing this and haven't before, let me first tell you in no uncertain terms that the blackthorn bush is a ferocious brute, that does not part easily with its wares. As long as you are aware of that, then fine, as it seems to have escaped everyone's mention wherever I looked for information. All bushes are covered in thorn over an inch long, you'll often find the best berries are sitting smugly right at the top of the bush, completely out of reach, and in my case, also perched on the edge of a precarious cliff top. My god this had better be worth it.

I have included a recipe below but would like to add one further point on my research. It seems that many people pick the sloes, then prick them all over with a fork before placing inside a large jar or bottle. Apparently, whilst this is an acceptable way of making sloe gin, it does not produce the best. Ideally you should wait for the first frost, helping to break the berries down (and also prevent the arse of going through the prep of pricking them). However, if this is not possible - as this year they are all out quite early - then place in the freezer overnight before making the gin as usual. Minus the pricking, of course.

Makes about 1 litre

450g sloes, frosted or pricked
450g sugar
600ml gin

Place the sloes into a large clean jar or bottle. Pour over the sugar, follwed by the gin. Close the container securely (and do not scrimp here, I have bought an inferior model it would seem, and now have gin all over my kitchen) and give a good shake to mix up the ingredients. Shake this daily for the following week - it helps incorporate the sugar and to release the sloe juice. After that shake once a week for 8-10 weeks.

Once the sloes have instilled their flavour in the gin pour through a fine sieve and bottle. I now double dare you to resist leaving one to enjoy in 18 months time. Others feel free to glug as soon as you get the Christmas mood.

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