Or very nearly anyway. We have great luck to be surrounded by old apple trees and the like, there have been houses on this site for a number of years, on the old maps there were quite a few and since 1850-ish just ours, when I say ‘ours’ we are end-of-terrace in the sense that it looks like one very big house but is in fact split into 4 along it’s length. Beyond our garden, via the shoulder high nettles there is a bank of sloe bushes and although all the recipes I have say to ideally pick your sloes at the end of September, after the first frosts I know to pick ours by end of August. I forgot. Last week I climbed over the fence and braved being stung to collect enough sloes to make a batch of sloe gin, I was nearly too late, most of the sloes had started to shrivel but I got enough firm ones to make up a batch.
To make approx 900ml you will need:
- 450g sloes
- 350g sugar (I use caster, unrefined)
- 700ml gin
Ideally you are supposed to pick the sloes after a frost (no chance in August!), but I put mine in the freezer for a couple of days as it helps to break them down, alternatively you can prick all over with a fork, then simply put all the ingredients in a jar, stir and seal. You should then shake or turn the jar regularly to keep the sugar moving (I turn mine most days, or when I remember) for between 8-12 weeks, tasting every few weeks to see if the flavour is to your liking. Again, I am likely to forget and just go for the full 12 weeks, also I leave my jar on the kitchen window but most recipes advise a dark corner.
After 8-12 weeks, strain through a fine sieve into sterilised bottles and ideally leave for a few months to mellow before drinking, if you can wait that long!
HFW suggests stoning the discarded fruit at the the sieving stage and eating with ice cream, I’m guessing it’s not a good idea to let the kids have any.