Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Quick recipe, Sloe gin......

The low sun in the sky heralds the onset of the colder weather, but it's not all doom and gloom as the 'outdoor' larder is packed with goodies. One in particular is ready right now....
The Sloe. Blackthorn bushes are laden with fruit this year, not surprising considering the ammount of white blossom there was as winter had barely finished. Sloes are an ancestor of the Damson/ Plum family. Incredibly tart, they are much too astringent to eat straight from the tree. You can wait until mid-winter when they will be well and truly bletted, or pick them and deep freeze them to sweeten them a little, but the best use is for...Sloe Gin.

They grow wild in the hedgerows, especially the older ones (pre 1800's). During the 1800's vast areas of previously common land were stolen....I mean enclosed. Most of these hedges were straight lines of Hawthorn, because they are cheap, can be layed and are stock proof. We need the earlier ones, the more variety of species usually the older the hedge. Also look for 'S' shaped hedge lines (aratral curve), this curve follows the line of the oxen drawn plough lines as they swept one way, then the other as they turned at the end of the field.
Using 'Hoopers' rule (age is equal to number of woody species in a 30 yard section multiplied by 110 years), this section of hedge is at least 700 years old.


With your sloes collected, pull off any stalks and give them a cats lick as they don't have to be too clean. Don't worry about any insects or grubs, they all add body/ bodies and flavour.



You need a good sized container, because....well, because you want a lot of it. I use these jars containing cider. Hang on a minute, I'll just decant this cider....that's better. Oooh! That's made me feel a bit giddy. 2 litres at 8.2%?! I'd better get on with this before my hand/ eye coordination goes...




If your Sloes aren't bletted then you'll need to prick each several times. Folklore says you shouldn't prick them with any metal other than silver and if that's not available then use a thorn from the Blackthorn itself. I take it they didn't have stainless steel in the olden days and cheaper metals could taint the fruit. I'm going to use a steel skewer and if the tree nymphs don't like it, they'll have to come and get me. See? That cider is making me feisty now.
Pop the fruit in your container about two thirds full and add half the weight in dark sugar. The sugar helps extract the flavour from the sloes and combats the tartness. Top up with Gin, Rum, Whiskey or Brandy.





Now the difficult part. You can't drink it until Christmas! Give it a shake every few days to help things along. Check the taste every week or so and add more sugar if necessary. You'll find that it gets more tart as the fruits infuse, the taste you're aiming for is liqueur sweet with a sharp tang. When it's ready, decant using a coffee filter and you'll find you'll have a fine crimson liqueur with a flavour you'll have to experience for yourselves. Don't throw those berries away, put them in cider and let them infuse. Oh, I drank the cider didn't I? Slight oversight on my part. Anyway, suddenly I feel rather sleepy...I'm going for a lie down.






15 comments:

secret agent said...

Slo Gin Fizz.............oh the memories

you can buy that stuff here in the USA for about 10 bucks
already made, already ready

secret agent said...

memories......or lack thereof

Madwag said...

now I will be on the look out for sloes... never knew this stuff b4... cheers

photowannabe said...

You are a giddy one. I didn't know the sloe was the name of a plum. Good info. Wish I was a drinker it sounds quite good.

Lavender said...

LOL! You'll be sorry in the morning Mate tehehe
So it comes from the Blackthorn - Cool! I didnt know that...in my younger days my best buddy and I always drank Sloe Gin Fizz-es when we went to the pub - but we didnt know what the heck a sloe was till now - Thanks Mate!
Get yourself some 'fizzy good' before you crash - you will want it tommorrow :)

Lesley said...

I may have to try that some day. What could be better than making and especially drinking your own sloe gin?
You would think I would have known how to do that since I come from a family of bootleggers, but that was before my time.

KMF said...

hi im first in your blog i like your blog nice photos

Elisa, Jarrod, Thomas & Zoe said...

Listen,I know you..!
If you are tasting it every week then I would be surprised if there's any left for Christmas!!

Doris & Dan said...

I never knew that sloe gin actually came from a fruit called sloe! Learn something new everyday. Hope it turns out well.

Keep smilin!

Angela Marie said...

What a lesson that came with beautiful pictures! Those were awesome!

:)

Gillian @ Indigo Blue said...

Sloe Gin...mystery solved!
I never knew.
Vintage hedges too, no doubt. 700 years is nothing to sniff at.
We used to put it into one of our mixed drinks, I can't remember now which one. It has been too many years since I tended bar.
xo
Gillian

Floderten said...

How do you know so much stuff?? o_o It's amazing. Or perhaps I'm just easily impressed. :P Maybe that's why people like me!

You should've topped it up with rum. Rum is nice. And good. And gets you drunk really, really fast!! ;)

photowannabe said...

Thanks for all of your information on chestnuts. I appreciate it. May even be brave enough to try it with the neighbors crop.

JLee said...

Interesting....I hate to say it but, I can't stand gin! Now give me some good scotch...

Sharon said...

Sort of like sun tea but only with a kick!