Sloe Gin

My Sloe Gin

Last New Years Eve I enjoyed several different sloe gins that had been made at home and brought along by other guests.  Their makers reassured me that, in addition to being delicious, it was very easy to make yourself, and so this year I decided to have a go.  Looking on the internet there seem to be lots of recipes for slow gin involving varying amounts and types of sugar.  All the recipes looked very straight forward with the only drawback being the length of time it takes for the sloes to infuse.  I settled on the following recipe:

  • Half a litre of Gin
  • Enough sloes to fill half to three quarters of a gin bottle
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • A glass bottle (the alcohol can “eat” into plastic)

The first thing I needed to do was to go sloe picking.  Sloes are the berries found on the Blackthorn tree.  They are a bluish purple and often have a slight white bloom on them.  They remind me of large blueberries to look at, although they are almost inedible raw as they are so bitter.

Sloes on the Hawthorn tree

You can’t but sloes in the supermarkets and the internet isn’t overly helpful either so my hunt for sloes began in early October down a local park.  Finding enough sloes for myself and the others with me, to make sloe gin proved to be quite a task.  The Blackthorn tree is extremely spiky, and what sloes were left tended to be very high up (I think that quite a few others had been picking before us).  To make matters worse most of the trees had brambles at the base and the end we all had a very scratched arms and legs in addition to our bags of sloes.

The first thing I needed to do to start the Gin was wash my sloes.  I also discarded any that I wasn’t sure about.

Washed sloes

Next I decanted my gin so that I could add my sloes to the bottle.  Before each sloe can go in the bottle it needs to be pricked several times to allow the juices to com out.  This was a particularly messy and time consuming procedure!

Pricking the sloe to release the juice

Eventually I got into a rhythm and my bottle was soon quite full. 

The bottle nearly full

It was then time to add the sugar and top up the bottle with Gin!

Adding the sugar and topped back up with gin

The bottle was given a good shake and then placed in a dark cupboard.  The recipe recommends turning the bottle once a day for the first week or so and once a week there after but I have to admit that I largely forgot to turn the bottle!

The sloe gin is ready to drink after about three months, but can be left for up to six months with the sloes in the bottle, and, being a liquor, will keep for a long time once they are removed.  We decided to try ours just before Christmas.

ready to strain the mixture

We began by pouring the gin out through a sieve to remove the sloes.  This proved harder than expected as the sloes took quite a lot of persuasion to come out of the bottle.  Eventually though we got there and had our first look at the lovely liquid.

sieveing out the sloes

We then passed the gin through some muslin to ensure that any fine bits of sloe were removed.  This meant that we lost a little but of gin as it soaked into the muslin, but it produced a wonderfully clear liquid.

passing the gin through muslin

The final liquid

In the end we produced just over 400ml of sloe gin.  After passing it through the muslin we poured it back into the bottle which had been cleaned out. The sloe gin was very fruity and a gorgeous deep burgundy colour. You can mix it with lemonade or tonic to make a long juice, but it’s great to drink neat in small sips.  Especially if you’ve just come in from the cold!    Although it was difficult to get the sloes, and pricking each one was quite a chore, making this Gin was really easy.  The result was a lovely festive drink and well worth the effort.  We’ve enjoyed ours so much that there is none left to bring along to New Years Eve.  We’ll have to make even more next year.

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2 Responses to “Sloe Gin”

  1. Choclette Says:

    I remember being really excited when I made my 1st batch of sloe gin. Now I’ve been making it for a while. I’ve become really blasé. I never prick the sloes, judge the amounts and if I’ve made enough the previous year, will leave it for a year before decanting – the longer the better.

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