It’s almost sloe gin time again.
Sloes, the fruit of the blackthorn (Prunus Spinosa) can be steeped in good quality gin to create a strong winter warmer…sloe gin.
The bitter blue-black fruit makes an excellent flavour for gin. Its blood coloured flesh darkens the clear spirit to a rich dark pink.
Traditionally, it’s better to wait until the first autumn frost before picking sloes. The frost splits the skin and breaks up the flesh of the fruit, enhancing the flavour it imparts to the spirit. Nowadays, a frost can mean waiting until late October or early November. The fruit is ripe and at it’s best before then so if you want to find that the best fruit pick in late September/early October and freeze it. The fruit is ripe when it has a bloom on it.
If you start now you will have a smooth, rich liqueur ready for Christmas. Traditionally a winter drink, sloe gin will mature into the base of long ice cold cocktails you can enjoy in the summer too. So make plenty.
So, how do you make it. Use a quality gin. Plymouth is good but it depends on your taste. Prick the sloes. Take a sealable parfait (preserve) jar and start filling it with sloes. For each layer of sloes add a layer of caster sugar and alternate the layers of sloes and sugar until you reach the top of the jar. Then add gin until the jar is full, add a few drops of vanilla essence and then seal the jar.
Put it in a dark cupboard and give it a light shake every day for a few weeks. Then as the sugar dissolves shake it once a week. After about eight weeks strain the gin through muslin into bottles. Enjoy some at Christmas but remember that the longer you leave it the better it will taste.
Don’t forget to keep some of the fruit that has been steeped in the gin. remove the stones, stir into a bowl full of melted dark chocolate, pour the mixture out onto crease proof paper lined tins and then allow to cool.
A delicious chocolate liqueur treat for Christmas…or any other time for that matter.