Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Kitchen Front - Sloe Gin

Last year I was given a small bottle of Sloe Gin by a neighbour, not being much of drinker I had never tried it before and I'll be honest I didn't think I would like it much but I was wrong (I'm always disappointed that red wine doesn't taste more like blackcurrant cordial, but then I am from the Alcopop era!), it was really quite delicious if a little on the strong side! So being a lover of all things homemade I knew it was definitely something I would like to try myself, well, once I had located a blackthorn hoard that is!

How To Make Sloe Gin - Last year I was given a small bottle of Sloe Gin by a neighbour, not being much of drinker I had never tried it before and it was really quite delicious if a little on the strong side! So being a lover of all things home made I knew it was definitely something I would like to try myself, well, once I had located a blackthorn hoard that is!

Luckily for me after taking a short cut back from my allotment a few weeks back I spotted a wealth of little purple berries on the bushes that lined the path, to be honest it took me a moment to realise what they were, but after a quick Google to check that the leaf shape resembled those of the blackthorn and not some hideously poisonous cousin (I don't know if there is one but it's always best to check! They are actually related to plums, and have quite a lot of fascinating folklore and history attached to them, though good lord, do not attempt to eat one, mergh!) I decided to pop back and pick some.

How To Make Sloe Gin - Last year I was given a small bottle of Sloe Gin by a neighbour, not being much of drinker I had never tried it before and it was really quite delicious if a little on the strong side! So being a lover of all things home made I knew it was definitely something I would like to try myself, well, once I had located a blackthorn hoard that is!

There are all sorts of advice on when to pick sloes, late August, early October, late October, even December, when the berries are more black than blue, when the berries are very squishy, when some of the berries on the bush are shrivelled, but the most common advice was to pick after the first frosts of Autumn as this helps the sour little berry to release its flavour into the gin. Overwhelmed by this wealth of opinions I chose to pick mine in late August a few days after my sighting, as the bushes were abundant and the berries had developed their dark blue bloomed hue and looked ripe to me, Whether this was too early, well I will just have to wait and see, but as the advice is as varied as it is long I decide to take a chance!

How To Make Sloe Gin - Last year I was given a small bottle of Sloe Gin by a neighbour, not being much of drinker I had never tried it before and it was really quite delicious if a little on the strong side! So being a lover of all things home made I knew it was definitely something I would like to try myself, well, once I had located a blackthorn hoard that is!

Berries picked, it was now time to choose a recipe. Here again, I came across a multitude of different opinions on how to create the perfect tipple. Some recipes require precise measurement of ingredients and others don't, many recipes suggest adding lots of sugar at the start and others add it towards the end, some insist you get the best Sloe Gin by starting with an expensive gin and others swear by a cheap one. In the end, I settled for the most simplistic recipe I could find and some cheap and cheerful Tesco's gin.

~ Sloe Gin ~

How To Make Sloe Gin - Last year I was given a small bottle of Sloe Gin by a neighbour, not being much of drinker I had never tried it before and it was really quite delicious if a little on the strong side! So being a lover of all things home made I knew it was definitely something I would like to try myself, well, once I had located a blackthorn hoard that is!
Ingredients:
1 bottle of Gin
1 lb of Sloes approx  
If you can't find a blackthorn bush then you could buy some berries from those that can here
Sterilised bottle or jar which is airtight - mine was from Ikea
2 large Spoonfuls of Sugar
A funnel for pouring the Gin & Sugar

Once you have picked your sloes give them a quick check over for maggots and stalks, then pop them in the freezer for 24 hrs. or overnight, this will mimic the first frost of Autumn and start to break down the flesh.

How To Make Sloe Gin - Last year I was given a small bottle of Sloe Gin by a neighbour, not being much of drinker I had never tried it before and it was really quite delicious if a little on the strong side! So being a lover of all things home made I knew it was definitely something I would like to try myself, well, once I had located a blackthorn hoard that is!

When ready to make your gin take your berries out of the freezer and let them defrost before bottling. Your berries should have started to break up a little but if not (like mine) you can either bash them with a culinary mallet or rolling pin, or the most traditional way would be to pierce the berries with a silver needle or a thorn from the bush you picked them from, I used a sewing pin as it was what I had to hand and sat out in the sunshine I found it to be quite a relaxing activity!


Fill your sterilised jar or bottle halfway up with pierced berries and then pour over your gin, leave a little air gap for now, and add in your 2 spoons of sugar - Adding a small amount of sugar at this stage is the easiest way to tailor the sweetness of your gin to your preference, it is difficult to judge how sweet it will become before it has matured and so it is easier to add more sugar later on in the process.

How To Make Sloe Gin - Last year I was given a small bottle of Sloe Gin by a neighbour, not being much of drinker I had never tried it before and it was really quite delicious if a little on the strong side! So being a lover of all things home made I knew it was definitely something I would like to try myself, well, once I had located a blackthorn hoard that is!
Seal your container and give it a good shake until the sugar starts to dissolve into the liquid then top up with any remaining gin and give a final shake before storing on its side in a cool dark place turning every few days.

How To Make Sloe Gin - Last year I was given a small bottle of Sloe Gin by a neighbour, not being much of drinker I had never tried it before and it was really quite delicious if a little on the strong side! So being a lover of all things home made I knew it was definitely something I would like to try myself, well, once I had located a blackthorn hoard that is!

Now for the difficult bit, waiting to sample it! 

For best results (every recipe agreed on this point) it needs to be left to macerate for at least two months to give those little berries a chance to release all their yummy flavour into the gin. As I have chosen the method which only adds a little sugar at the start I will need to add more to taste in a month or two, this can be done by making up a sugar syrup - mix equal amounts of sugar and water dissolved over a low heat, leave to cool and then add the syrup into your gin and then reseal for a few more days. It has been a few weeks since I bottled mine and the colour is slowly getting richer so if all goes to plan it should be ready for a colourful Christmas tipple!

Have you ever made sloe gin and do you have any tips?

Wendy x

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