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It's sloe gin time

by Pippa Greenwood

I've just come back from the supermarket, clutching the normal array of necessities...and three large bottles of gin. No, I've not turned to the bottle; it's sloe gin time.

SloesI've just come back from the supermarket, clutching the normal array of necessities...and three large bottles of gin. No, I've not turned to the bottle; it's sloe gin time and if you're from the supermarket it's the truth, honest!

This has been a brilliant year for sloes, many of them the size of damsons and looking seriously juicy. I'm about to go out and start the harvest, sure to come back with arms ripped to shreds by those mega-thorns, as no doubt I'll forget to take the gauntlet gloves. I have to start early because although there is now a tremendous crop on some of the Prunus spinosa that we planted shortly after we moved here (the excuse was that it is of course, a great native hedging plant!).

Those by the footpath will be cleared of all fruit if I leave it until the suggested time of 'after the first frost'. It's true that a zapping by freezing temperatures will make for better sloe gin, but me, I'm going to simply pop the sloes in the freezer. It has exactly the same effect and because the fruit that comes out is then seriously softer, it makes all that delicate pricking with a darning needle a thing of the past.

Given three months or perhaps a week or two less I shall be enjoying the rich, red liquid...hic!

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Gardeners' World Web User 03/11/2007 at 10:03

Hi, I have noticed that the sloes in the North West are pretty sparse this year, has anyone else? Can any one recommend any other good sites for sloes or sweet chestnut up here?

Gardeners' World Web User 03/11/2007 at 11:20

I'm almost tee-total, but do love to make and have the odd slurp of sloe gin. Though the person who provided me with the sloes has moved away, so I have had to make damson gin this year. I am now wondering if I should grow my own. Would it take years for a plant to yield sufficient berries to make a small brew? Didn't know about the freezing thing. Though I don't mind sitting on an afternoon pricking the fruit, I find it quite relaxing.

Gardeners' World Web User 04/11/2007 at 18:28

Me and my sister started off our first attempt at Sloe Gin about 6 weeks ago. Do we strain it before re-bottling and when will it be drinkable and when really nice! Next year we will take your advice and wait till after a frost to collect the fruit. Thanks.

Gardeners' World Web User 06/11/2007 at 11:36

Yes, it comes in to bearing speedily - I reckon we had our first very useable crop from the tiny 30cm tall or so rooted 'sticks', after about 4 0r 5 years.

I must admit I never filter my sloe gin, but suspect that those that need things to look great might well do so!! If there is a bit of sediment - all the more likely if you do my zap in the freezer method cos things then get a bit squashy!!! - then it settles to the bottom and give a clear can always use the 'dregs' on vanilla ice cream!!

Gardeners' World Web User 06/11/2007 at 18:03

I picked some sloes end of summer, then found on a website that I should wait until after the first frost, so I threw them on the compost heap. Very stupid I read now, I should have put them in the freezer. We planted three rows of mixed hedge, wild roses, sloes, hazelnut and some other things. Mainly for the birds. Does anybody have some recommendations on what I could add to my hedge?

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