It’s one of life’s mysteries how two unpalatable things can be brought together and transformed into something utterly divine. Neat gin and fresh sloes may be life sucking, mouth drying, face making devils by themselves, but together they make a delicious Christmas liqueur. Go figure.
The sloes were finally ready to be picked a couple of weeks ago, and this year’s harvest was incredibly abundant. There are so many myths about making Sloe Gin – waiting until the first frost, pricking them with a silver fork – but it’s really as simple as waiting until they are ripe (and testing by a squeeze – this may or may not be before the first frost), giving them a wash, and freezing them for a couple of days to allow them to rupture naturally (this avoids the laborious task that we have undertaken on previous years of slicing each to allow to juices to flow out).
Once defrosted, you can fill suitable bottles with the now juicy sloes. Fill the bottles half full and then top up with gin (allowing a couple of inches gap at the top to allow for sugar and mixing). You can add a small amount of sugar at this point, and then add more to taste later. We used a ratio of 500ml gin and 100g sugar in each bottle. Pop on the top, give a good shake, and the gin should start turning a gratifying shade of pink straightaway. Shake every couple of days for the next couple of months. After 3 months (if you can last that long) strain the gin into fresh bottles and discard the sloes. The gin will continue to mature and can (apparently !) be kept for several years. 🙂