There are many stories surrounding the best ways to make sloe gin, and we love the romance of it all! The notion that you can’t pick the sloe berries until after the first frost and never sharing the location of the best sloes, of pricking the sloes with a silver needle or a thorn from the tree it was picked from. Cue images of gathering around the fire at Christmas, each nursing a glass of sloe gin that’s been made in the age-old way with the secret family recipe.
Only thing is, none of us actually have a picture postcard cottage, family Christmases are usually more reminiscent of a rather dull soap (except with more gin) and we want to be able to find some simple, clear cut advice on making sloe gin.
So, here we are. We've read, researched and sampled (for posterity’s sake, obviously) so here are three of the most important and useful pieces of information for creating your very own sloe gin!
Sloe season is August through to October; the best point at which to pick them varies year on year dependent on a variety of factors but you can tell how ripe they are by squeezing them. If they seem hard, they’re not ready just yet!
Rather than pricking your sloes (to help get the fullest flavour from them), freeze them! Keeping them in the freezer for a couple of days, allows for a more even and thorough release of flavour than the traditional method.
Don’t rely on the fruit and the sugar to provide all of the flavour! Use a high quality, high strength gin as your base. The high strength will help to break down the sloe berries and a good quality gin is important simply in terms of flavour. I’d recommend Sipsmith V.J.O.P. or Blackwoods 60%
With those facts at your disposal, all you need now is a good recipe! And more than a little patience...
Sloe Gin Recipe
Freeze the sloes for two days then place in a large, sterilised tub and add your gin and simple syrup. Ensure that the tub is tightly sealed and shake well. Store the tub in a cool, dark place and shake the mixture every other day. Leave the sloes to rest for at least three months for the most delicious result, and voila! Delectable, homemade sloe gin.
*To make simple syrup, mix one part boiling water with one part sugar
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