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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?
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.
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.
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!!

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?


We picked some sloes this year in early August in Colchester while staying with family. They are now maturing quite nicely. We got some damsons from the Lune valley (South Lakes) the year before last, made some gin and forgot about it until a month ago - just the thing after a frosty morning's digging (or even just plain damp!)
Hi i got a lakemont grape vine this week. i live in the north east of england it is cold in winter & i would like to grow my vine in my garden. What would i need to keep it warm in winter i have 2 green houses, gilbert
Picked berries in County Durham in September, and popped them in freezer for 2 days before using. Went back to the bushes after the 1st frost, and they were shrivelled up-glad I picked them when I did!

Recipe: 1lb berries, 8oz castor sugar, 1 litre gin. Prick berries, put in an empty bottle, add sugar - this should take you to about half way up the bottle. Top up bottle with gin, seal bottle. Shake once day for a week, to dissolve sugar. Store for at least 3 months in COOL DARK place.

Stored my first bottle near to a radiator, and it exploded - berries everywhere, and a very sticky carpet! Now making a massive batch in a demi-john.

We have zillions of sloes down here in HAmpshire, and I want to know are they 'past it' when they shrivel a bit, they were quite plump till the frost.
Having had a glut of sloes last year we decided it could not all go in gin and we raided the cupboard and made whisky, bacardi and schnapps. all worked equally well although the bacardi was fav with the men and schnapps for those more discerning of us. Give it a try!
Having just decanted the last of this year's sloe gin into bottles can anyone tell me if it's okay to put the used sloes on the compost heap?
You can certainly compost the used sloes, but if you like a rather sharp (and decidedly alcoholic) for an at-home icecream eating feats...they're great but you'll need to remove the stones first!! My cousin makes damson gin and recommends dipping the sloes in chocolate after gin-making...or perhaps it is just eating the chocolate at the same time ???!
We always add the used sloes to a bottle of top quality cider. It turns the cider a lovely purple colour and gives it a subtle sloe gin flavour. It makes the cider very potent though!


And I assume that the resulting pretty brew is also pretty lethal and inclined to make even the sturdiest gardener horizontal!!
Decanted our first 3 liters of sloe gin yesterday after 6 months, and made pancakes with chestnut spread, tvaroh (local soft cheese) and sloes on top. Extremely yummy.
Can anyone explain to me why there is not a Sloe to be seen in and around Atherstone & Arley & Nuneaton area. Is it just a bad year across the country or is it just a pocket of the country thats poor. Last year we picked about 20lbs off a few bushes and made Sloe Jelly. This year I wanted to make wine.
The Sloe crop this year is very poor. Its the same story across the country. It seems that the late frosts during the spring of 2008 killed off lots of blossom on the Blackthorn bushes, which in turn has really reduced the Sloe crop. Some of my local bushes which were absoloutely heaving with Sloes last year, but have this year produced none at all! I went picking all day today & collected only 4lbs of them after really hunting hard amongst the undergrowth. I walked nearly 4 miles along the fields & footpaths to find them. Last year I picked that amount in 45 mins from one bush, which shows just how few are to be found.
I live between Stanley and Consett area of County Durham, lots of cycle paths along old rail lines but never walked that far out yet, I wondered if anyone out there has found any decent spots around this area for wild berry picking -Blackberries/Sloeberries/Elderberries/Gooseberries etc in fact any berries that are edible in one form or another, and maybe when we get a decent dry day when I am not at work I will get the chance to go foraging.

If I get a decent size garden when I move house again I might just grow my own bushes.