16 Sep 2012

And.......a not-so-healthy ritual...

On Friday Husband, Rufus and I went Sloe picking.  It's Sloe Gin time!  Now, I know this shouldn't technically appear under the heading of 'Health and Fitness',  but as it includes a recipe I thought it was the best place for it!

It's a yearly ritual which is exclusively Husband's 'baby' and one which he is very, very good at.  It normally gets carried out mid-late October, preferably after the first frost (as the fruit tends to split during the frost thus saving the laborious task of pricking each and every Sloe to let all the juice escape).  However, this year, we are anticipating that the next few weeks may be somewhat otherwise rather busy, so this year we were out picking early.  Luckily,  some of the bushes also seem to be ahead of the times,  but not all, so we had to be quite selective.  

We sadly missed our Sloe-picking event last year, mainly due to sheer laziness and procrastination.  I can't pretend otherwise. Therefore, because the rewards of Sloe Gin making aren't normally reaped until two years after the event (depending on the level of self-restraint we can muster in the meantime and whether, consequently, supplies are raided early) Winter 2013 may be sadly devoid of  Sloe Gin.  But Husband is really rather imaginative in this department and has had proven success in the past with other fruit liqueurs, so maybe 2013 shall instead be a Strawberry Vodka year,  or perhaps Blackberry Whisky or Gin & Ginger?

First batch of 2012 Sloe Gin in the making

But he has just decanted 2010's yield (we get around 3 litres from each 5 litre demijohn),  so we shall certainly be enjoying that this Winter.  I am very pleased that my pregnancy won't be impinging on my ability to join in on the sampling.  What could be better than sitting in front of an open fire with a glass of Sloe Gin on a Winter's evening?! 

Husband's recipe for Sloe Gin

Per 5l demijohn - 

Sloes - around 3.5 to 4 lbs (although, it does depend on the size of the Sloes - you are aiming to fill a 5l demijohn up to 1/2 to 2/3 with Sloes)
Granulated Sugar - 1/2 the weight of Sloes
Gin - you can use pretty inexpensive Gin, nothing special! Probably around 3.5l. 

  1. First, weigh your Sloes to work out how much sugar you will need.
  2. Wash the sloes and prick each one.  As mentioned above, if you have managed to time it well and harvest after the first frost,  so that the fruit has split but not yet started to go over,  you can avoid this rather painstaking stage for most of the berries.  Some people say to put the Sloes in a freezer to get the same result, but we have found that this makes the Sloes very soft and 'mushy' once defrosted, which makes the liqueur cloudy, with lots of sediment at the bottom.  Husband uses a pickle fork (or a corn-on-the-cobb skewer) to prick the Sloes with, as it has 2 prongs and therefore halves the effort!  Prick each Sloe several times (4-5 times per sloe).
  3. Fill the demijohn with Sloes up to a half to two-thirds full.
  4. Add the sugar.
  5. Add the gin! Fill to the very top, ensuring that no air bubble is present once the rubber bung has been put in. 
  6. Keep upturning the demijohn (over several days if need be) until all the sugar's dissolved.
  7. Once the sugar's dissolved, store for as long as possible. A minimum of 6 months...but the longer the better, as it gets more syrupy with age.  It is always good to make more than you think you'll need or want so that one bottle can get forgotten about at the back of the booze cupboard - it'll be a very welcome surprise in a couple of years once rediscovered! 

Have fun!

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