A simple recipe to make a superb quality sloe gin with the added bonus of producing unusual liqueur chocolate.
Way back in September 2002 I was making the most of the opportunity presented by the Countryside Alliance protest – Jan and I headed out to the sticks for a spot of poaching and came across an entire hedgerow dripping with sloes. I had heard that the small fruits are not really edible but are used to make sloe gin and flavour other white spirits so we had a ago at making our own and it couldn’t have been simpler. Over the years we have discovered one or two tips and tricks to get better flavour, improve the clarity and make use of the “used sloes”.
You can make your own sloe gin – begin by scouring countryside hedgerows keeping well away from fume polluted roadside sloes. Once you have your harvest read on to find out how we make our delicious sloe gin.
Sloe Gin recipe
1 lb (450 g) sloes
1 pint (500 ml) gin or vodka
12 oz (350 g) sugar
Optional – chocolate
Sloes are the fruit of blackthorn and are actually a wild type of plum. The flavour of the fruit is bitter, so the small plums are not suitable for eating. The bitter flavour is lost when making Sloe gin & liqueurs.
Traditionally folk would pierce each sloe with a thorn from the bush in preparation, or use multiple needles embedded in a cork to speed up this process but I’m a great advocate of the shortcut and sticking the fruit in a freezer not only mellows the bitter flavour (simulating the “pick after first frost” tradition) but causes the juice in the fruit cells to expand and burst the cell walls. In the meantime you can begin to procure your gin – wait for Safeway specials (showing how long ago this was first published) or any other own brand gin and of course who needs an excuse to take a trip to Lidl.
How to make Sloe Gin
Wash and dry the fruit, remove all stems, and freeze the sloes for at least a couple of days. Place the fruit in a suitable container, add gin or vodka, and shake twice a week for 4-8 weeks. Transfer most of the liquid to a bottle. Add the sugar to the remaining sloes. Shake twice a day until all sugar has dissolved; this may take up to two weeks. Mix this sweet syrup with the first unsweetened liquid. After three months strain the liqueur through a muslin cloth. Add some more sugar if necessary. The liqueur should mellow for a couple of months before used. No way – we get stuck into ours well before Christmas.
Clear Sloe Gin
Because of the violent shaking of the bottles lots of debris from the skins of the fruit will be suspended in the liquor. Straining will partly remove this but to get a really clear gin you should leave the bottles (sloes now removed) undisturbed in a cool place. The bits will gradually settle as a sediment and with a steady hand the clear spirit can be decanted into a fresh bottle. For an ultra clear finish try filtering through coffee machine paper cone
As an alternative you can mix the sloes, gin or vodka and sugar at the same time, but then use slightly less sugar. If preparing the sloe gin/liqueur this way you will also get a delicious flavor, however, the total volume of liqueur will be less because more liquid will remain within the fruit.
Sloe Gin Chocolate
Liqueur Chocolates – don’t bin the fruit. Cut and stone the sloes and dip into premium melted chocolate. The liqueur chocolates make a superb unusual gift if your too tight to part with the Gin of Vodka you’ve made
What to do with the gin soaked sloes
Christina Dye dropped a line via the contact form to suggest:
Sloe Gin – Post soaked boozey sloes!
I use fizzy white wine after I have strained the gin, (here Blanquette de Limoux near Carcassonne) to make ‘sloequette’ or more traditionally English, add cider to make ‘slyder’! Both stronger than the original sloe gin if you leave it for another 6 months!
More ideas to make the most of the gin infused sloes
“I was looking at your recipe for sloe gin as I picked HUGE amounts of them this weekend. I have asked lots of people about it and everyone seems to have a very difference recipe. One tip someone gave me was to utilise the seeped sloes (once removed from the gin) by covering them with cheap wine and allowing them to infuse, apparently it makes a great fortified wine.” – Abigail Jermain
Sloe gin is traditionally made in Ireland and Great Britain. This liqueur has a flavor similar to plum liqueur and the colour is dark red. It is served in small amounts (yeah right) as an after-dinner drink with or without ice. Why not compliment with the liqueur chocolates
Remember – patience is a virtue.
Cheers. (Please do try the chocolates)