For several years, I’ve been wanting to have a go at making sloe gin.
Usually, I think about making it some time before the sloes are in season, then I forget about it (because I’m busy thinking about other stuff) by the time the sloes are out and remember again shortly after the last of them have disappeared from the hedgerows.
This year I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was hoping to make some sloe gin and, despite the fairly poor sloe crop this season has had to offer, she collected a small bag of sloes and gave them to me. Apparently some of them were from her garden and the rest from somewhere on the Anglesey coast (which we’ve gradually been walking round this year, with another friend and her dog).
The basic method for making sloe gin is pretty staightforward. You get a load of sloes and a bit of sugar, stick them in a bottle, cover them with gin and leave for several months, shaking the bottle occasionally for the first few weeks. It’s possible that there are more sophisticated recipes out there, but this approach seems perfectly good for a first attempt. In theory it’s recommended to wait until the first frost has been at the sloes, but you can apparently simulate that quite well by sticking them in the freezer for a bit, so that’s what I did.
Having got my sloes, I quickly purchased a bottle of gin (Morrisons’ own brand – doubtless not the finest gin available but reasonably priced, quite pleasant tasting and certainly good enough for my first experiments). I already had plenty of sugar in stock, so that took care of the ingredients. A glass ginger beer bottle with a screw top provided a good receptacle and left me with enough gin to enjoy a few drinks while I wait for the sloe gin to be ready.
I started the sloe gin going today, so it should be ready to drink by about the end of January. If it works well, I’ll see if I can harvest a few more sloes next year (hopefully it will be a better year for fruit growing, and I might even get round to picking some sloes for myself) and make a larger batch.