I made sloe gin for the first time last year, and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that it was the best thing I have ever drunk. I was heartbroken when the bottle I’d made ran out and berated myself for not picking more sloes so that I could have made more . Since then, I’ve been impatiently waiting for the sloes to reappear so that I can get on with the 2014 vintage. Last year I didn’t pick the sloes until October, but I spotted them out very early in September this year, and I couldn’t risk all the bushes being stripped bare before I got round to picking them so I went for it. I then froze the sloes – this causes the skins to split so that you don’t have to pierce each one with a pin, and mimics the effect of the first frost, after which the berries are supposed to be more mature and flavoursome.
450g sloe berries
200g caster sugar
(Once the sloes were in my 1L kilner jar, I couldn’t also fit in a whole litre of gin so I’ve played around with these quantities as you can see below. I won’t know which is most successful until the gin is ready for sampling – I’ll update this post afterwards)
1. Pierce each sloe with a pin if the skins haven’t split after freezing.
2. Put the sloes into a kilner jar (to sterilise the jar first either run it through the dishwasher on a hot wash, or put in an oven at 130 degrees Celcius for 20 mins).
3. Pour in the sugar and the gin, close the lid and shake well.
4. Store in a cool, dark cupboard. Shake well every other day for the first week, then once a week for at least two months.
5. Strain the gin through a muslin into a bottle.
6. Sample it. Frequently!