I like to try and make what I eat and drink when I can. I think knowing where something has come from and how it was made is really important. At this time of year that means lots of harvesting, both in the garden and in the woods, fields and hedgerows. Sometimes in the autumn it can get to a point when you are just fed up of bottling, freezing and picking and long for the seson of planting and growing again… However hard you try there are always a few harvests you miss out on, whether its the weather or just too busy a life. Missing a glut of wild or garden goodies can sometimes pass me by, or sometimes make me sad. But there is one hedgerow harvest in particular that I just couldn’t stand to miss out on. Its Sloe Gin time (at least in my book it is Phil… I know you like to wait for the first frost!). The sloes are looking fantastic in the hedgerows round here in the moment. Everyone has their favourite haunt, but in reality in a good year like this one you shouldn’t have too far to explore to find a Blackthorn laden with fruit.

The best thing about sloe picking is that the top spots for them are the kind of hedgerows that are usually packed with all sorts of other intersting wildlife… try looking of the map for footpaths through and around some fields near you, they wont be too far away. Just be careful while you are picking, the thorns can be a bit nasty.

sloes in the hedge

A few people lately have been asking me for my recipe again, I know I have posted it before, but, for those that were asking, here it is again.

sloe gin making

Get yourself a bottle of gin (or vodka if you prefer, as I do). Don’t buy the really cheap stuff, you will only regret it later. Empty the contents into a jug.

FIll the bottle up to between a quarter or a third with sugar, then fill up to just over half way with sloes. The picture below will give you an idea of what I mean.

sloe gin recipe

Then fill the bottle up with Gin (or vodka!).

Now comes the key bit. Time. Put it aside until at least christmas before opening. Or if you can bear to wait (or better still make two bottles) keep for at least a year before opening.

Some people like to prick the sloes, I never bother though, many like to shake the bottle at set intervals to encourage the sugar to dissolve, this can help, but I never worry about it too much, the key ingredient is time and patience, and maybe a bottle made the year before to make the wait easier.

Drink by the fireside on cold winter nights contemplating the coming of spring.

Happy Foraging.