It’s autumn in the UK, which means it’s the perfect season for foraging for fruit and mushrooms in the countryside. We are lucky to have many sloe (blackthorn) bushes in our local area and one of our favourite things to do at this time of year is to make sloe gin.
Sloe gin is a liquer made from gin and sloes, although other alcohol bases can be used. Unlike gin, which is quite perfumed, sloe gin is much sweeter, deriving its flavour from the fruit infusing into the alcohol as well as some added sugar.
Gin is a very fashionable drink these days, with a huge number of flavours and variations available, as well as it forming the base of a vast array of liquers and cocktails. Sloe gin is available commercially but if you have access to sloe bushes it is great fun to make your own.
It’s a really easy process and you can adapt it to your personal taste. It just needs a little patience.
Here’s a flow chart – or, if you will, sloe chart:
This is what the colour will look like after around three months. You can see that already the gin has acquired the colour of the berries.
Postscript – sloe gin is also great if you pop the bottle into the freezer for a couple of hours. The alcohol doesn’t freeze fully but becomes slightly syrupy. It’s delicious, so remember to keep some back for summertime.
As with all foraging, do make sure you are 100% certain about the fruit that you are picking. There are some great identification guides.
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