Hedgerow Bounty Part One - Sloe...ly does it

Time for another recipe and it's another drink. Perhaps there's a theme here? I am not a gin drinker so sloe gin is going to be a new one to me, but I have it on good authority it is worth the making.

Sloes on the tree

The idea came as we were walking the dog whilst still in Yorkshire after the Harrogate show. We were walking up a country lane near the village we were staying in and the hedgerows were full of sloe bushes (Prunus spinosa), laden with fruit.

Most of the fruit was higher up, as if someone had already picked the easily accessible ones. It's a good job I have a tall guy. Of course we never planned on picking sloes, so had nothing to put them in. Cue a handkerchief (clean!), knotted in the corners, which actually made for a good photo! Where would we be without Google on the phone? A quick search revealed a suggested recipe of a pound of fruit per litre of gin. We are not good at guesstimating weights: our pound turned out to be three-quarters once we got back and put them on the scales. Still a 75cl bottle of gin works out quite nicely.

Picked ready for taking home

Although I have the plants growing in the boundary hedge here at Easter Mosshat, they rarely flower, never mind fruit! Its just too cold and high here. Regardless, the plants will grow anywhere, easily coping with clay soil and the wild windy cold weather we get up here at Easter Mosshat, forming tight dense hedging as long as you watch out for the thorns!

The recipe for sloe gin is quick and easy, as follows:

Sloe Gin

1 lb Sloe berries, washed and pricked all over
1 litre Gin
250g sugar

1. Once you have weighed, washed and pricked the fruit all over, place them in a wide-necked bottle or seal-able jar (we used a litre Kilner jar)

2. Place the sugar in with the sloes, then pour over the gin.

3. Give the jar a good shake to dissolve the sugar then place in a dark cupboard.

4. Shake every day until the sugar has all dissolved.

5. After about 3 months strain out the sloes through
muslin, bottle, store in a dark cupboard, and wait.

Sloe gin is a popular drink at Christmas, coinciding with it maturing. The colour is an amazing deep burgundy already and I can't wait to see it when it is ready to drink.

As well as sloe gin I believe you can make a jelly for eating with meat and jam with sloes and apples. I'll maybe try that next year if I can get some more sloes.

Making things from the garden will also be a theme of my up coming workshops and gardening courses, run here at Easter Mosshat.

Pouring in the gin

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