What do you do when the days start to shorten and there are many long winter nights ahead of you? Brew your own booze of course!
Some may recall from earlier posts that in visiting a variety of National Trust properties, I was able to try locally grown farm shop produce as well as collect some of the local wild foods. One of the fruits that I collected from some hedgerows, with the help of my tall husband, were sloes.
Sloes are a tiny wild prune, that is the fruit of the blackthorn. They have a dusky bloom similar to damsons, are tart to taste and have a magnificent red colour that stains everything on contact, when the skin is pierced. We collected as many as we could but sadly, not as many as I would have liked. The purpose of this wild harvest was to create Sloe Gin, a very old fashioned tipple which is having a big revival. Sloe Gin is such a big seller that it is now commercially produced but those I’ve tasted to date are more like a sweet liqueur cordial than a Gin.
The basic proportions are:
- 1 litre Gin
- 500gm Sloes
- 225gm White Sugar
- Enjoy two or three good G&Ts as you’ll need the space in the bottle
- Wash and dry the sloes
- Pierce each sloe with a skewer or darning needle and add to the Gin
- Add the sugar
- Seal bottle and turn several times a day until sugar dissolves
- Once sugar is dissolved – turn once a week
- After a few hours, your Gin will start to take on a rosy hue – it is best left for at least 3 months to allow the colour and flavour of the Sloes to fully permeate the Gin
- Strain and re-bottle without fruit. Your Sloe Gin is now ready to enjoy!
Well, as you can see, it’s not a very difficult recipe to follow so I expect you all to get out amongst the hedgerows and start foraging.
This Gin recipe is dryer than the syrupy concoctions that are on the shelves. It’s not ready to drink yet but I’m looking forward to making a cocktail I saw on a menu in a faded seaside Art Deco hotel – a combo of Sloe Gin & Champagne! For a select few – if you come to visit me in the UK or Europe next year, they may be some to sample.