We’ve been out in the Devon countryside today, picking sloes, the fruit of the blackthorn tree. We’re going to make Sloe Gin.
I remember my grandmother making Sloe Gin, well into her 90s. She kept it hidden, tucked away in the back of her dresser. She was a fairly strict Methodist, so I presume it was for ‘medicinal purposes only’. I certainly never saw her get it out or offer it to the grows-ups when we went to visit.
And I’ve never tried it myself (honest, granny) so I’m excited to have a go at making it.
Researching how to do it, there seems to be a lot of tricky hoo-ha about the best methods. That they won’t be ready to pick until the ‘first frost’ (we’ve just picked 2 lbs worth, ripe as plums, on a warm, September day. No frost in sight). That you must prick them with a thorn only from the same tree (I’m not going back for the thorns. I’ve had enough of the thorns already!) That you must prick them with a pin only made of silver (oh, for goodness sake!)
Thankfully, MNM has found a logical recipe at Sipsmith.com that suits his scientific brain, so I’m leaving the ‘potion’ making to him. And if it all goes horribly wrong, Sipsmith’s own concoction looks rather tempting!
Here’s their recipe. (Make sure you have sterilised bottles ready to use):
Find good sloes (on the land or online), freeze them overnight (to split them – saves having to prick each one), add enough fruit to almost half-fill a bottle, then top it up with good quality gin (like our Sipsmith London Dry gin).
Wait at least three months. Only then add sugar or syrup to taste. It couldn’t be easier, better or simpler.
There’s also another similar, but more detailed, recipe on Jamie Oliver’s site