The sloes are plump and heavy on the Blackthorn at the moment and well worth picking – just beware the large thorns and the brambles and nettles that often accompany them. While sloe gin is the best known use for these sour plums – they also make tasty jelly.
However, making sloe gin in preparation for some winter tippling is definitely the way to go. There is a sense of anticipation, a bit of foraging, and three months to dream up some outstanding cocktails. Once you have foraged your sloes, you then need gin and I can recommend sourcing Lidl’s – cheap, but excellent quality.
While it is not yet freezing at night, then you should put the picked sloes in the freezer which splits them and helps their flavour mix with the gin.
Mix the sloes with a quarter or their weight of sugar and half fill your bottles with this mixture. Then add gin until nearly full and seal tightly. Store for at least two months, shaking occassionally to help dissolve the sugar.
Once you have decanted the sloe gin, make sure to use the berries – dip them in chocolate for a delcious Christmas treat – laden with gin and sweetened.