Sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn tree. Small, dark and exceedingly bitter, the fruits look like miniature damsons.
We found a handful of blackthorn trees in a nearby forest clearing, and over the past few days we have been harvesting the fruits to make sloe gin. The resulting liqueur is syrupy and warming, perfect for a cold winter's evening.
The best time to pick sloes is after the first frost so that the fruit starts to break down. However you can pick them now and either freeze them overnight or prick the skins with a pin to get the juices flowing.
Sloe gin, makes about 1 litre.
Put the sloes into a clean kilner jar or bottle. Add the sugar and gin and put the lid on and give it a good shake to mix. Shake daily for the next week. Thereafter shake once a week for 8-10 weeks. Strain the liquid and pour into sterilised bottles.