Notes from food | Making sloe gin

By Sarah. September 13, 2012


The first sloes are starting to appear in the hedgerows and it’s time to make sloe gin, which will sit and stew until ready to make an appearance at Christmas. It’s my first attempt at making sloe gin, but I’m assured by the rest of the Food team that it’s delicious, rich, fruity drink that’s well worth the effort, pricked fingers and the embarrassment of having to buy copious amounts of gin at the supermarket.

You can find our basic recipe here.

A bowl of sloes

Stage one: Picking

Head out into the countryside (preferably with some willing helpers) and look out for the little dark fruits on a thorny bush. Long sleeves are recommended and don’t forget to take a container with you. Don’t let anyone trick you into eating raw sloes – they’re incredibly dry and sour.

I found mine in a little valley near Holywell in Cornwall and was able to gather quite a large bowlful.

Stage two: Make it

There are a few different methods for making sloe gin: you can either prick the skins all over with a needle or you can freeze the sloes then crush them when they’ve defrosted. In the interests of experimentation, I’ve made two lots using the pricking method and one lot using the freezing method.

The pricking method was very time consuming and the freezing method was less labour-intensive – once defrosted, the sloes were very easy to crush and seemed to release much more juice. Of course, I’ll have to wait until Christmas to see which tastes best.

Once you’ve prepared the sloes, add them to a sterilised bottle or jar with the sugar and gin. Seal and give it a shake.

Stage three: Shake it

For the first week you’ll need to shake it every day (or every other day, depending on the recipe you’re

‘It’s well worth the effort, pricked fingers and the embarrassment of having to buy copious amounts of gin at the supermarket’

using), then once a week for two months, until it’s ready for straining. Store in a cool, dark cupboard.

Stage four: Strain it

When it’s ready, strain the gin through muslin into sterilised bottles. I’m planning to decant it into little bottles to give away as Christmas presents and save a little for Christmas Day. Don’t throw the leftover fruit away – you can add it to cider to make “slider” or use it to make boozy sloe chocolates.

Do you have any top tips, recipes or snaps of your sloe gin making? Get in touch with us by emailing
Image used courtesy of Girl Interrupted Eating via Flickr under Creative Commons Licensing.


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