Sloe Gin, Sloe Cider & Sweet Sloes
Sloe gin is an old favourite that’s ready just in time for Christmas, but our version keeps on giving: once you’ve guzzled the fruity scarlet gin you can re-use the sloes to flavour cider, and then eat the booze-soaked berries as a dessert or in homemade chocolates.
Traditional wisdom says to wait to pick sloes until after the first frost, because the fruit produces sugars as a natural defence against the cold. But we pick them as soon as they turn purple and pop them in the freezer overnight to achieve the same effect. The freezing causes the sloes’ skins to split, bypassing the need to prick them with a needle as some older recipes direct.
- Approx 250g sloes (enough to half-fill two 500ml bottles)
- 750ml gin (or vodka)
- 125g granulated sugar
FOR THE SLOE CIDER
- 750ml dry cider
- Pick over the sloes, removing the stems and discarding any berries that are damaged, mouldy or shrivelled. Rinse and drain them, and then put them in the freezer overnight to ‘blet’ them. Sterilise two 500ml bottles with wide necks. Half–fill each one with frozen sloes. Add half the sugar to each bottle, and top up with the gin (or vodka). Put on the lids and leave in a dark place for two to three months, gently shaking every so often to dissolve the sugar. The gin is delicious mixed with tonic water, lemonade or ginger ale.
- Once you’ve drunk the gin, top up the bottles with cider and close the lids. Allow to stand for 1 month before drinking.
- Once the cider is drunk, you can eat the sloes: tip them out of the bottles, squeeze out and remove the stones, and use as a boozy fruit topping for cakes and puddings, or dip them in melted chocolate.
Recipe by Wild Food UK; photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK