Its not to late to grab yourself a small bagful of sloes they are still around to pick right now, well in my neck of the woods anyway and you might be lucky and get yourself a late harvest, but you will be in competition with the wild birds, they love them! Also put on some gloves, picking sloes is a prickly business.
Sloes are sour! and tend to get used in recipes using sugar to bring out their plummy flavour and brilliant red/purple colour.
They are commonly used for making jelly and often mixed with apples for this purpose, making wine and used in flavouring gin or vodka when mixed with sugar for making a delicious and sweet beautifully coloured liqueur.
Sloes are related to plums and have been used in cooking for centuries, a very old fashioned but still and rightly so popular fruit to enjoy cooking with to this day.
A lot of people recommend pricking the sloes before soaking in the gin and sugar, but I have to admit I never do and the sloe gin always tastes delicious, however I do always harvest them late in the season when they are fully ripe and their skins are softer and more permeable.
Giving the lemon grass stems a bash with a rolling pin starts to release their essential oils.
- 700g ripe sloes
- 350g granulated or caster sugar
- 1 lemon grass stalk, cut into chunks and bashed with a rolling pin
- 5 star anise
- 7 strips of orange rind
- 6 strips of lemon rind
- 600-700ml good quality gin
- Wash the sloes and pull off any stalks. Dry lightly in a clean tea towel.
- Divide the sloes evenly between the two jars.
- Add the lemon grass and lemon rind to one jar and the star anise and orange zest to the other jar.
- Divide the sugar in half and spoon it into the jars.
- Top up the jars with gin.Seal the jars.
- Store in a cool dark place ( I do this after a week, as I like to look at them sitting on a shelf in the kitchen for pleasure! ) and invert regularly to help dissolve the sugar. Add a little extra gin to top up the jars if necessary.
- Keep for 6 months ( if you can! ) before straining the liquid from the sloes and spices and pour into sterilised bottles, seal and label.
- Its ready to drink after 6 months but you can keep it for longer if you have the will power, I don't!
Thank you for calling by! I hope you get a batch of this sloe gin on the go and remember that you can use damsons earlier on in the season to make a delicious gin mixture too, which would just about be ready to drink and celebrate in the new year! Cheers!