The first proper frosts of the winter are upon us which means that Sloes are prime for picking.
Sloes grow along many paths and hedgerows in the UK being the fruit of the spiky blackthorn bush. They look like hard, miniature, vividly blue plums and, other than feeding the birds, their main purpose is to give a wonderful fruitiness and colour to either gin or vodka!
Go for a walk with a bucket and a pair of gloves as blackthorn is decidedly prickly.
Ingredients (depending on how much you need):-
- 2kg (4 ½ lb) sloes
- 1kg (2 ¼ lb) sugar
- 3 standard bottles of gin or vodka
The traditional way (and the best) is to prick each fruit several times with a needle (or blackthorn spike). The modern way is to put them in the freezer and then defrost them as that will burst the skin. Either way, the key to getting the best solution is to make sure they are well perforated.
Place the pricked sloes in a large sealable jar or divide equally between smaller containers. Pour in the sugar and add the alcohol.
Seal the jar and turn it over several times to distribute the sugar and start it dissolving.
Leave the mix to mature in a cool, dark place. Turn it over occasionally and particularly in the early stages.
After 6 months strain the liquid through muslin or a clean cotton cloth and decant it into clean bottles. Wait for a further 6 months at least before drinking – the longer the wait the better the result. Thus, pick now to satisfy next year’s requirements.