My Sloe Gin recipe makes an ideal cocktail, is delicious at parties and is an excellent home-made Christmas gift idea. Gin has been THE celebrated tipple for a couple of years now and infused with the sloe berry is a great way to enjoy it as Winter draws near. A nip of this delicious gin made with wild sloes on a cold winter walk or when freezing at a sports match, is guaranteed to warm you up. Its also incredibly easy to make.
First catch your sloes….. Seriously, if you haven’t picked them before they look a little like blueberries and grow on bushes. Pick a whole tub full depending on how much you are planning on making. You are aiming to half fill your bottle with fruit.
Many recipes suggest picking after the first frost – good luck with that…. If you can find any sloes AFTER the first frost you are in a different climate to me. Pick them from late September to early October when they are ripe (if you squeeze them and they burst they are ripe). To emulate the frost, pop them in the freezer overnight or for a couple days. ( I would wash them first just in case of beasties).
Some recipes suggest pricking the sloes with a pin (and I have even read of using a silver needle…?) but its really unnecessary if you have frozen them. The point of pricking them is to rupture them and the freezing does this for you. Take them out the freezer and defrost them on a tray or large plate until they reach room temp.
Fill your bottles (which have been sterilized or just given a really good clean with boiling water) half full with fruit. DO NOT ADD SUGAR. There is little point adding this at the beginning – you do not know how sweet or sour your sloes are at this point. The sugar will prevent the spirit from extracting the natural fruit sugars. Sweetening at the end of maceration with a sugar syrup results in perfect levels of sweetness and flavour.
Top up the bottle now with gin∗ and swill it gently. Take it to a dark cupboard or at least out of sunlight and lay bottle on its side. Agitate it every other day very gently for TWO MONTHS….. I know, its a long wait but the longer you leave it the better it will be …three months if you can. If you’ve made a batch, definitely put some down for next year.
When you are ready to try your gin (oh happy day) , add some sugar syrup to taste. I don’t like mine too sweet. ( To make the syrup add equal measures of sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat until sugar dissolves and allow it to cool.) Strain through a muslin cloth (or very clean thin tea towel) and its ready to decant into your bottles for serving or gifting.
You can drink it neat, over ice, use in recipes or make a divine cocktail. I love this one I call a Sloe-Ro. Start by adding some sloe gin into a champagne flute, top up with champagne or Prosecco and garnish with a large fresh sprig of Rosemary… its delicious and the scent of the fresh herb hits your nose first…. try it.
*There is no difference when using expensive or regular gin when you have steeped the sloes for long enough…just sayin’.
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