Sloe berries whole dried fruit
This is actually the fruit of the Blackthorn and is frequently used to make Sloe Gin.
These berries are examined by us for quality prior to being dried.
Stocks are subject to seasonal variations.
Raw sloes are bitter and astringent, and this drink needs a lot of sugar to balance them and result in a syrupy, deep pink liqueur.
Gin is used as the traditional base, and I love the combination of the juniper and the plummy sloes, but you can use vodka or another clear spirit.
Sloes are best after a sharp frost as this helps the flavour develop and lose some of the sourness of the Sloe berry.
To assist in this, you can freeze your Sloe Berries in your freezer, then defrost them for use.
Each of the sloes is pricked all over once defrosted (you can embed some needles in a cork to speed this up) and steeped in sugar and gin – for every pound of sloes (450g) use 8 oz (225g) of caster sugar and 1 3/4 pints (1 Litre) of gin.
You can use any Gin, Supermarket own brands are ideal.
Steeping sloes in gin was historically used as a way to disguise tainted gin, so it doesn’t make much sense to use your most expensive gin in this recipe.
Use any suitable jar or pot to hold the liquor in.
Make sure that you can achieve an airtight seal around the top to exclude all air from entering the jar.
Although many recipes say you can shake/stir the mixture regularly and then strain the berries out and make a start on drinking after two months, the gin is much more delicious if you can manage to restrain yourself and not stir it, and then leave it steeping for at least six months before you strain and bottle.
The sugar that you use will gradually dissolve over the months, and the bright, syrupy juices will leach out of the pricked sloes and combine with the sweetened gin.
The recipe is
* 450g/1lb sloes
* 225g/8oz caster sugar
* 1 litre/1¾ pint gin
1. Prick the tough skin of the sloes all over with a clean needle and put in a large sterilised jar.
2. Pour in the sugar and the gin, seal tightly and shake well.
3. Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake every other day for a week. Then shake once a week for at least two months- far better to allow 6 months.
4. Strain the sloe gin through muslin into a sterilised bottle.
Don’t throw the Sloe berries away after you have used them to make Sloe Gin as they are still full of flavour.
Uses for the Sloe berries AFTER they have been used to make Sloe Gin.
Sloe Port recipe
In this recipe the sloes are re-macerated with red wine & sugar and then the drink is fortified with a little brandy.
The resultant drink will come out at around 15-20% alcohol by volume depending on which wine & brandy you use.
It tastes delicious, like a Port with a lovely gentle Sloe edge.
You can add sugar to taste.
You’ll need the container you used for the Sloe Gin to make this in and then bottles in which to store your ‘Port’.
To make about 1 litre you’ll need:
* About 500g sloes left over from your gin above
* 750ml (1 standard bottle) of red wine
* About 100g sugar
* 200ml brandy
1. Add the sloes, sugar and wine to your container.
2. Seal and shake daily for 6-8 weeks, keeping it in a cool, dark place.
3. Taste and adjust sugar if you think necessary.
4. At the end of this time, drain the sloes off the liquid through a double layer of scalded muslin.
5. Add the brandy and mix well.
6. Pour into your clean presentation bottles.
How to make sloe chocolates
1. Take your used Sloe berries and lay them in a single layer on some greaseproof paper in a tray or box with sides.
2. Sprinkle over some ground Cinnamon and some finely grated orange rind.
3. Melt some good quality fair trade organic dark chocolate in a saucepan or bowl over a pan of simmering water.
4. Pour the chocolate evenly over the Sloe berries.
5. Put the tray or box in the freezer until the chocolate is hard.
When you are ready to eat, break into chunks remembering that the sloes still have stones in them.
The chocolate goes extremely well with the Sloe Port you’ve just made.