We went out blackberry picking yesterday, and also found 200g of sloes.
I’ve not made sloe gin in years – not seen sloes out in the wild for years – and had a “spare” bottle of gin so thought I’d make some.
So for anyone who also stumbles across these unpromisingly bitter knots of fruit, here’s a recipe.
Make it now, and it will be ready for Christmas!
Give your sloes a wash and a dry.
Then give them a good pricking with a needle you’ve run some boiling water over. [Easier, if untested, alternative to pricking further down.]
Bethan here likes to imagine she’s pricking the eyeballs of a burglar she has knocked unconscious.
Find yourself a bottle, like our gormless photographer Tony here.
Give it a sterilising with some boiling water.
Lots of people don’t bother with this, and I’m ambivalent.
I remember Bethan saying “I don’t believe in sterilising”, but then she had that third baby they couldn’t afford.
Unlike Limoncello, you don’t need to add the sugar as a solution.
Just tip it in.
I tend to use a bit less sugar than sloe. Here I used 200g of sloe, and added 150g of caster sugar. Not because that’s the perfect amount, that’s just how much I had in the cupboard.
However, I think it was a bit sweet, and maybe closer to 2:1 ratio of fruit & sugar is the way.
If it needs sweetening when you open it, you can add some sugar solution then – you can’t remove sugar later!
Now add around 50cl of cheap gin.
Don’t use the good stuff – it’s supposed to taste of fruit. I use Lidl & Morrisons own brand.
Sipsmith recommend only using good gin – but then they would, wouldn’t they?
Shop at the same place as the men who drink medicine on the seafront. If you’re standing in the queue by an ex-forces wino with a facial tatto, you’re in the right place.
Drink the rest of the bottle (make sure you do this towards the end of the evening after you’ve had your expensive booze and are at the “Shouting at TV” stage).
Give it a good shake up then put it in a dark place that you visit every day.
(I meant a cupboard there – not Borth, where the residents battle the voices in their heads chanting “kill! Kill! Kill!”)
(Don’t get me wrong, I like Borth; it’s just that I find you don’t need to visit so often once you’ve given up heroin.)
Within a day of steeping, your sloe gin will start to colour.
Again, opinions vary on the efficacy of shaking, but I find it gives my day a purpose and something to look forward to.
After about three months, filter the liquid into a clean bottle (or into a jug and back into the bottle – I’m sure you can work this bit out) and leave for another month.
If you get moving, you could have a bottle ready for Christmas.
If you have more than one bottle, decant them as you need them, but don’t leave the fruit in for more than six months.
It’s the perfect Xmas drink as it’s very strong, yet tastes like a powerful cordial.
This makes it an easy way to get non-drinkers or recovering alcoholics drunk without them realising until it’s too late.
And if that’s not the spirit of Christmas, then what is?
**2015 September Update**
Today we had lunch in the very pretty Trefeddian Hotel in Aberdovey, and look at their sloes!
We got enough for at least 3 bottles!
This is handy, as at a tasting at the Plymouth Gin Distillery, we noted their stuff was much drier, less sweet, than ours.
So we’re going to do two lots, and have a drink-off over Xmas.
**Early December Update**
They have come out well, and we’ve enjoyed making cocktails with the sloe gin, eg this wonderful Beer Julep.
We ended up with one bottle too sweet, one bottle a bit dry, so have combined them (blending!)
I think just less than 2:1 fruit to sugar is about right.
Next year I’ll be trying 200g fruit, 110g sugar, 500ml-ish of gin.
**August 2017 Update**
We found several blackthorn bushes on the coastal path, and came home with 1.2kg, enough for about 4 bottles of sloe gin!
1.2kg is a lot:
and I couldn’t face pricking them, so I froze them for 24 hours.
I tried hitting them with a rolling pin, and it was slow work, with more shooting off onto the floor than I liked.
So I thought, and tried something new.
Pinching the partially defrosted sloes in my fingers:
and it worked brilliantly.
MUCH faster than pricking or rolling pin, and you can see much more sloe flesh exposed.
I went with the approx ratios 220g fruit, 110g sugar, 50cl gin and now have all these steeping.
(Note to self – port bottle has more fruit and sugar).
I’m going to decant them one at a time to maximise the fruity flavour.