04 October 2015

Sloe Gin Recipe - Christmas Treats


Sloes!
 

Autumn in the UK has been pretty beaut so far and perfect for foraging the hedgerows. If you hadn’t noticed, we’ve had a bumper crop of sloes. Which means one thing - Christmas sloe gin!

I’ve been procrastinating about making sloe gin for about the last 5 years, this year I’m determined to make amends. Over Bank Holiday I bought the 8 piece Kilner Sloe Gin kit off eBay for £19,99 from Get Goods. It usually retails at £25, a total bargain as it contains:x1 2 litre round Kilner glass jar, x4 250ml sloe gin bottles, x1 50 x 50cm muslin cloth, x1 plastic funnel & a recipe card.
 
Kilner Sloe Gin Kit

Next was the fun part – picking sloes. They grow on blackthorn bushes at the edge of fields. Harvest time is around the end of September to November, although this year they were ready at the end of August. Just in time for making Christmas gifts!

The bush usually grows 3-13 ft tall and the sloe berries are clustered together. They’re about 1-2cm wide and dark purple/blue in colour. When they’re ripe to pick they have a bit of a squidge. You can test a few on the bush to know that the rest are okay to pick. Below are a few piccies of what to look out for. These are taken from a hedgerow in south Dorset. If you're interested in knowing some good spots, send me a message and I'll share my spot!!

Blackthorn Bushes
 
What do you need?

To fill the 2 litre Kilner jar which will make approximately 1 litre of sloe gin you’ll need:

·         700ml Gin (I use Gordon’s)

·         800g of sloe berries – approximately 400 berries

·         280g granulated sugar

How to make sloe gin:

1. Wash the sloe berries getting rid of the stalks and any creepy crawlies you might have picked up along the way.
Wash & De-Stalk or Insect the Sloes
 
2. Take a pin or needle and prick each berry. This helps to release the juices and flavours.

3.I then dried the sloes and popped them in the freezer for the week. For a few reasons. 1) I needed to pick more sloes and 2) Old wives tale – that if we haven’t experienced a frost in the UK, it helps to imitate the frost and crack the berry to help release the juices. You probably don’t need to prick and freeze – but I got carried away with the process and did both.
 
Pop in the Freezer
 
4. When you’re ready to make the sloe gin, defrost the berries overnight.

5. Add the berries to the Kilner jar and add the gin and sugar and store in a dark dry place.
 
 
Add the Sloe Berries to the Kilner Jar
Add 280g of Granulated Sugar to the Kilner Jar
Add the Gin to the Kilner Jar
Sloe Gin Mixture ready for Brewing
 
6. Tip the jar upside down and gently share every couple of days this allows all the ingredients to agitate together and enriches the flavour. I topped up the jar with a couple 100mls of gin – you might as well make the most of it!

7. Leave the mixture for a least 3 months – just in time for Christmas!
 
Now I haven’t done the next steps as I’m still waiting…. But hopefully it will all go to plan!

8. Strain the liquid using the muslin cloth and decant into the individual sloe gin bottles.

Apparently the longer you leave it the better the taste! Somehow, I don’t think there will be any left.

Does anyone else have any good foraging recipes for making tipples they fancy sharing?

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