Seasonal drinks were at the forefront of my mind this week, wandering past hedgerows heavy with sloes. The huge quantities of berries this year are said to indicate a harsh winter ahead. The sloes themselves are extremely bitter when eaten raw ( if you were so inclined, it’s an easy trick to convince the unfamiliar they’re blueberries and watch their faces as they taste them). Sloe gin, however, is a delicious seasonal treat, perfect for snuggling up with beside the fire on a winter’s evening and dreaming of warmer times (perhaps planning one of our food and wine tours) . Our traditional family recipe is as follows:
You’ll need gin, sloes and caster sugar, and quantities can be adapted to how much you have. You’ll also need at least one extra gin bottle, or preferably, a large kilner jar (easier to get the sloes out afterwards).
Fill your container to the half-way point with sloes. Then pour the sugar in until around half way up the level of sloes. Then, fill up to the top with gin. Keep it tucked away for three months and turn it occasionally. Then your gin is ready to drink.
Alex’s personal tips:
– Traditionally sloes were picked after the first frost, when they’d split their skins a little and the flavour comes out more easily. These days some people prick their sloes to achieve the same effect, but this is pretty time consuming- much easier to put your sloes into the freezer for a few days instead!
– Once you’ve had the sloes in the gin for 3 months, you can take them out. Instead of throwing them away, they make a delicious and unusual stuffing, are great addition to game stews, and are scrumptious mashed up in truffles.
– If you’re one of the lucky few joining our German Christmas Food tour and have developed a taste for gluhwein, adding a nip or two of sloe gin makes it taste extra fruity.