Autumn in the UK has been pretty beaut so far and perfect for foraging the hedgerows. If you hadn’t noticed, we’re having a bumper crop of sloes. Which means one thing – sloe gin! Oh & Christmas presents!
Making sloe gin is pretty straight forward. You can pick up an 8 piece Kilner Sloe Gin kit off Amazon for £18.99, it can retail up to £35. The kit 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 is 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. Just in time for making Christmas gifts or having a few drinks yourself!
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!!
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’ve used Gordon’s in the past, but these days would probably use Dorset Conker Spirit Gin – expensive but would taste delicious)
- 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 the Sloes
2. Take a pin or needle and prick each berry. This helps to release the juices and flavours.
3. Dry the sloes and popped them in the freezer for the week.
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 shake every couple of days, to allow all the ingredients to agitate together and enrich the flavour. Top 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!
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! If you can wait for that long.
Does anyone else have any good foraging recipes for making tipples they fancy sharing?