Sloe Gin

One Sunday afternoon in mid-September we visited one of our local foraging spots and gathered blackberries for more jam, and bags full of sloes.  In the quiet sunny valley a tangle of blackthorn and hawthorn trees form a wild hedge around a sheltered field, grazed by cows. A stand of blackthorn trees that march through the field were covered in lichen which formed amazing shapes – the air here must be very clean?! Edit: According to Sally Nex’s article for the bbc, the lichen types I saw appear to be hypogymnia, and usnea; both of which are indeed indicators for clean air.

The sloes went straight into the freezer until I found time to process them. This has the added benefit of helping to release the flavour, replicating the effects of a hard frost, and many people recommend freezing them prior to making sloe gin if they are picked before the first frosts.

Today I found twenty minutes spare to layer the sloes in a gallon jar with caster sugar. The sloes and sugar just filled the jar past halfway, which was ideal to then top up with the correct proportion of gin.

We used the following ratio:

1.5kg Sloes
1kg Caster Sugar
2.2 Litres Gin

We shall rotate the jar every day until the sugar dissolves and the liqueur starts to acquire its purple hue – see the contrast between the freshly dowsed sloes and last year’s bottled batch.


6 thoughts on “Sloe Gin

  1. Looks pretty good! I’ve made Sloe Gin a few times before, but the hardest part was always having the willpower to let it mature for a while before drinking it. We used to reckon it was OK to start it in Christmas week. How long do you plan to leave yours?

    • I agree that it should be okay to crack open at Christmas – lovely and warming for the festive season, and a few months seems to be sufficient to brew! We actually still have most of our first ever batch that we made last year (and tested at Christmas!) and have hardly touched during our whirlwind diy year, but now that things are starting to calm down I hope we’ll have some nice ‘sloe’ evenings to enjoy it – and it will be interesting to compare this year’s with last year’s in flavour… This batch will be coming your way in a few weeks for my mum and dad 🙂

  2. Hi Sara – very tempting. Am going to pass this on to my daughter as she has been a gathering but prefers vodka. Is there a Sloe vodka? The tip on freezing was a good one.

    As winter gathers in, you can slow up!


    • Hi Laura, Sloe vodka should be just as good – I did a quick google and there’s quite a few ‘recipes’ out there – including one on the Waitrose website. Yes, things are certainly less hectic with us now, which makes a lovely change! S x

  3. Lovely sloes lurking behind glass. The only time i made this, the sugar got left out. I am envying you the lichen as well as the later drinking of the gin!

    • Ooh I bet that was rather tart! Must remember to “shake the sloes” tonight and help the sugar dissolve. Suspect that leaving it next to a radiator wasn’t very smart either…

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