A sloe summary, with plant I.D. and alternative raspberry recipe #gin

Sloes adorn the Blackthorn bushes in late September (these were photographed in 2011)

Sloes adorn the Blackthorn bushes in late September (these were photographed in 2011)

I’ve posted about sloe gin making a couple of years running (here and here), which probably makes it a tradition that I must now do so annually.

A brief twitter conversation today has suggested this years post needs to have some photo’s of the Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) bush, the plant from which we get sloe’s with which to make the increasingly popular liqueur drink that slides down so easily on a cold evening, or after a long day of work.

On a good year, the Blackthorn which flowered in early spring will be loaded with dark purple fruit by late September, though after such a late spring in 2013 I think there’ll be good picking well into October. It has small green oval leaves, and large thorns, so when heading out on picking expedition, it is advisable to wear a decent coat!

Blackthorn is as good as it's name, and a decent coat stops you getting too much damage when deep in a thicket picking sloes!

Blackthorn is as good as it’s name, and a decent coat stops you getting too much damage when deep in a thicket picking sloes!

To summarise the recipe and tips gleaned from previous years experiments

  • Once washed and sorted for unwanted protein, freezing sloes for a few days/weeks/years avoids the tedious requirement to repeatedly prick the skin of each sloe berry;
  • Very approximately the recipe is 1lb sloes to 4oz castor sugar in 75cl of gin (though if you like it sweeter add a little more sugar) – you can drop the previously frozen berries straight into containers of gin, but remember the level will rise as you do so; collecting oversized sweet or ‘kilner’ size jars can be useful for the part of the process;
  • Place the jam jars in a cupboard/shed for 3 months, but every few weeks go and turn the jar gently, making sure it doesn’t leak the precious contents but the sloe juice mixes well into the gin/sugar mix;
  • After the three months is up, sieve the sloes from the gin, bottle carefully, and enjoy!
Raspberry Gin, steeping. Recipe: 1/2 ltr Gin, 6oz Castor Sugar, 1lb Raspberries

Raspberry Gin, steeping. Recipe: 1/2 ltr Gin, 6oz Castor Sugar, 1lb Raspberries

Since doing sloe gin, as a family we’ve branched out, with raspberry gin possibly being the favourite version of liqueur gin, and what is currently ‘laid down’ in our shed – this batch shows the recipe and is named ‘A’ level gin as we picked the raspberries the day the A-level results came out (my teacher husband having spent the morning in school handing results out)!

Your health, clink! :-)

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About Rachel Hartland

Church of England Ordinand, child of God, daughter of the New Forest, wife and mother.
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2 Responses to A sloe summary, with plant I.D. and alternative raspberry recipe #gin

  1. Claire Maxim says:

    Nice recipe – ancient family recipe here has more sugar, and no-one touches the gin for a year after it is bottled – so I am looking forward to tasting last year’s batch at the beginning of December. We found a bottle made by my Mum about four years after she died, and it was pretty good by then!

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