I love making Sloe Gin and it’s the time of year for finding good ripe berries. I went out for a walk today and found a bonanza of Sloes in my usual hunting spot:
Never one to pass up an opportunity I harvested the biggest berries to make up a new batch. The berries have to ‘give’ a little when pinched and should have a purple-blue bloom on them; these are the methods I use to tell that they’re ready to pick or not. If they’re hard, then they’re not ready and you should leave them on the bush.
There’s a fair amount of mythology surrounding the picking of Sloe berries for Gin around these parts such as:
“They should be picked after the first frost of the year”
“They should be pricked with a thorn from the bush you picked them from”
In my mind the truth of the matter is that you should just pick them when they’re ripe (like you would any fruit or berry) and that using a sterilised pin (or better yet freezing them overnight so when defrosted they burst) will be just as, if not more effective.
Here’s the recipe I use:
- Pick some good sloes
- Freeze them overnight (or if you can’t wait that long, prick the berries all over with something sharp like a pin)
- Add enough berries to almost half-fill a bottle
- Top up the bottle with good quality gin (not the cheapest you can find)
- Wait for about three months, turning occasionally.
- Add a few drops of good quality Vanilla Essence.
- Add some syrup (made from boiled sugar and water in the pan) to taste.
- Wait another few days then strain it all through some muslin into a sterilised bottle.
A bottle I made in 2011, a very good year!