Plundering the hedgerow for their bounty can be very rewarding. Especially when there’s alcohol involved.
I have to thank a friend of mine for identifying the fruit which hangs from the hedgerow at the bottom of our garden. Among the brambles and blackberries, it’s the fruit of the Hawthorn. The sloe.
A solitary sloe
So last year, armed with this knowledge and a recipe from said friend, I embarked on my first ever batch of sloe gin.
Basically, I emptied the contents of a gin bottle into a jug and filled the bottle about the third of the way up with sloes, all of which had been pricked with a needle. The gin is then returned to the bottle with sugar – about half as much sugar to the weight of the sloes.
(The remainder of the gin can either be drunk, or used to make up another bottle of sloe gin).
The bottle is then sealed and given a shake. The bottle should be gently turned and shaken every other day for a week, then once a week for a couple of months.
It was then strained through a muslin cloth into some rustic looking bottles with swing-top lids.
I guess you can drink it straight away, but it definitely improves with age. This is some of last year’s batch. Smooth, warming with a hint of almond.
Even if you’re not keen on gin, give it a go. You might be surprised. I certainly was – either drink it or pour it over ice. It goes down particularly well at Christmas. We left some out for Mr Claus last year and it was much appreciated.