Sloe gin ...
Keen to make some sloe gin in time for Christmas, I spent last weekend scouring our nearby hedgerows for blackthorn bushes adorned with sloe berries. The result ... no joy, not one measly berry.
So I was delighted when I visited Jenna, the country girly bible, out in Cheriton and she pointed to the hedge opposite her cottage and declared 'we have loads of sloes'! Yay!
So we pulled on our wellies and off we went for a forage, like a pair of scavengers, on the hunt for those elusive, blue little buggers.
And she certainly wasn't lying, we hit the jackpot, rows and rows of sloes. (We also collected hazelnuts - the plan is to make sloe and hazelnut chocolate once the gin is made - we'll come back to this ;)).
I collected what I assumed was about 2kg of sloes, ripe and ready after a first frost and brought them home.
(When I got home I soon realised I could've fit twice as many berries in my gigantic glass jar & made double the gin!).
Basic sloe gin recipe -
2kg Sloe berries
2 litres Gin
1 kg Caster sugar (add more for a sweeter gin).
Wash and dry your sloes and pop in the fridge overnight. Take them out and let them thaw.
Funnel the sloes into a sterilised, sealable glass bottle.
Pour in the sugar and finally pour over the gin.
Securely seal the bottle, give it a swirl and place in a cool dark place.
(There are many variations of the recipe - some people add a couple of drops of almond essence into the mixture, another recipe I found suggested popping a cinnamon stick, orange peel and a few drops of vanilla essence into the mix - it's really up to you and how adventurous you're feeling!).
Swirl the bottle every few days for at least 3 months - leave longer if possible.
Strain the contents of the bottle through a muslin cloth into another sterilised bottle and either sit back and sip on the fruits of your labour, or why not decant into smaller bottles, label and hand out to friends and family at Christmas.