HOW TO MAKE SLOE GIN
Making sloe gin is an important autumn ritual which you'll thank yourself for come Christmas.
With the first frost of autumn comes sloe gin making time!
If you've read my blog for a while you'll know I love eating seasonally and foraging for fruit and this is just another excuse to go foraging. Sloe gin is deliciously warming and one of the easiest things to make, it’s just the waiting game that’s hard. Here's my cockle warming sloe gin recipe
So, my top tip for getting maximum flavour out of those berries...
Traditionally you pick sloes after the first frost. Once the berries have frozen the skin on each berry is broken, letting all of the delicious flavour flow into the gin. I’ve picked mine before the first frost because I could’t wait this year. But I have a tip for getting around waiting for the first frost below
To make sloe gin you’ll need:
- 500 grams of sloes
- 250 grams of caster sugar
- 1 litre of gin
- Spare bottles to put your sloe gin in
Pick your sloes
First, you’ll need to go out and collect your sloes. Wrap up warm, take a hip flask filled with last year’s sloe gin (if you have any left) and take a basket
You’ll find lots of sloe bushes if you drive up country lanes, they tend to like windy exposed areas so you might be best looking at the top of a freezing cold windy hill – you gotta earn your sloe gin
Get your sloes in the freezer - aka their first frost
When you’re back home and have thawed out from the cold, weigh out your sloes and pick out any leaves and bits you don’t want, then put your berries in the freezer overnight. This has the same effect on the berries as the first frost -breaking up the skin and the little cells inside, releasing juicy goodness - giving your sloe gin the best possible flavour
Some recipes say to prick the berries, but this freezer method will save you a lot of time by not having to do that
Make and shake!
Next put the berries in a bottle, as you do this gently squeeze each berry so that the skin bursts. I had to split my ingredients between three bottles as I didn’t have one big enough for the volume of sloe gin that I was after.
Then add your sugar and gin. Seal up the bottles and give them a good old shake to get the flavours flowing.
Now it’s a waiting game, shake your bottles every few days for two months to dissolve the sugar and encourage the flavour to develop.
Strain and drink
After two months strain the sloe gin through muslin and pour it into sterilised bottles. Your sloe Gin is now ready to drink, although I would advise leaving it as long as you can, even a year if you have the patience. The longer you leave it the better it will taste!
If you’re a sharing is caring kind of person, you can pour some into pretty bottles and give it away as gifts. Enjoy!
If you have any left by Christmas, here's my top tip. Adding a drop or two of sloe gin to your mulled wine, it adds that extra little warming kick to a classic Christmas tipple. Enjoy
Sloe gin also makes a brilliant gift at Christmas, or it's also become quite popular as wedding favours. If you're in the market for other delicious treat to offer as gifts (because the sloe gin is all yours, don't blame you) take a look at my Country & Seasonal posts for some inspiration