As some of you may know I am the eldest of five kids, and the youngest three are still young enough that they are on Santa’s high priority stocking list. This calls for mince pies and sloe gin, with a carrot for Rudolf (who we all now know is a GIRL!!!). We have diverted from the norm of whiskey in my father’s household as he is of a mind that after several billion tots of whiskey, Santa is going to be a bit fed up of it would welcome a change.
My father is also one of the lucky few that normally gets a bottle of my Honey Sloe Down gin, before Christmas. However, seeing as I have been out of the country for the last year it has been awhile since I made any. For those of you lucky enough to be living somewhere that Blackthorn Trees are, its the perfect time to go looking for sloes. I love a days foraging, especially when its a blue sky, freezy sort of day that ends in the pub by a lovely, toasty fire with a pint of ale. I really miss England right now!
Traditionally, sloes should be picked after the first frosts and fallen as it helps them get all mushy and flavour-some in the gin. I tend to start picking sloes in late October right the way through though and the ones that haven’t seen a frost go in the freezer until I’m ready to use them.
Honey Sloe Down (Sloe Gin)
75cl gin (the best you can afford but one without too many botanicals i.e. Gordons), 4 hand fulls of sloes, 50g light brown sugar, 3 tbsp honey, vanilla pod, 1L kilner jar.
Wash the sloes well and remove any stalks or bruised fruit. Some recipes say to prick the fruit with a needle/fork/skewer but I never have and get great results. Put them in the kilner jar and then pour over gin. Stir in the sugar and honey, add the vanilla pod and then make sure the lid is on tight. Give it a good shake everyday for a few weeks, then leave it for a few months to mature. Some people strain it then bottle it, I tend to pour it into pretty bottles and then add a few of the fruit for presentation. You could make some now and give it as gifts that need to be matured, or you could make it now, mature it yourself and give it as gifts NEXT Christmas (if that isn’t too forward thinking for you…)
Don’t discard the berries, there is a killer drink called Slider which you can make with them. Retain them in the kilner jar and top with some flat cider. Leave for a few weeks and enjoy in small quantities. I warn you now, its lethal!!
I like to drink my sloe gin neat from a hip flask or mixed with cloudy apple juice for a long party drink. How do you like yours?