You love sloe gin, we love sloe gin but have you ever made your own? It’s autumn, it’s getting chilly, now is the time to start! This essential guide has got you covered from complete beginners to masters who just need a quick recipe reminder.
We’ll start you off with ‘what do sloes even look like and where do you find them?’ and work down to the recipe. So what are you waiting for? Make your own sloe gin now and it’ll be ready just in time for Christmas…
HOW TO FIND YOUR SLOES
Where Sloes grow on blackthorn bushes which are dark, small and very thorny (the name does NOT lie, take gloves to pick these babies!). Blackthorns are used as hedges by councils and farmers so you might find them fencing in your local town hall/park/tip.
What they look like Sloes are roughly marble sized, deep purple outside and green inside with a distinctive white ‘haze’ on the skin and a stone pip in the centre. Oh, and don’t eat them, your stomach will not thank you - they are very sour until mixed with gin! The sloe does look similar to other fruit, including damsons, if you aren’t sure use a plant identification app/website - www.rhs.org.uk is a good one. Or just make a damson gin...that works too!
TIPS & TRICKS
Sloe season is August-October. There is loads of debate about the best time to pick them, essentially, sloes are ripe when you can pop the berries easily between your finger and thumb.
To get the best flavour freeze your sloes rather than pricking them (the traditional method). This simulates the first frost, splitting the skin and releasing the natural fruity flavour.
Use a good, high strength gin as your base. The high ABV % will help break down the sloe berries and vastly improve the taste. We recommend Blackwoods 60% Vintage Dry Gin.
All you need now is a good recipe! And patience...
SLOE GIN RECIPE
Ingredients & Equipment
Tupperware tub/ glass jar
400g of sloes (or about half the bottle you’re using)
70cl gin (or enough to fill the bottle you’re using)
1 large spoonful caster sugar (helps break down the sloes - use a small spoonful if making half a bottle, you’ll never need more though, even if you make a barrelful!)
Making it is really easy. Soak the sloes in cold water for approx 10 minutes, this will remove any dirt/insects. Then freeze them for two days to simulate the first frost and split the skins. Next, pop them in a large, sterilised* tupperware tub/jar with the gin and sugar. Make sure the container is tightly sealed and shake well. Store it in a cool, dark place (a cupboard works well) and shake the mixture every other day. Repeat for at least 3 months for a delicious result, the longer you leave it, the better the flavour. A few days before you plan to drink it have a taste - if you want it a bit sweeter make a simple sugar syrup by mixing equal parts boiling water and sugar and add until you are happy. Pour into your bottle and voila!
*You can find steriliser for your container at any supermarket.
Now you can sit back, relax and sip your gorgeous sloe gin! For an extra treat try it in our mulled sloe gin recipe mmmmmm....
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