to break out the sloe gin!
When we stayed with friends in England (before moving here) during Christmas and over winter, invariably we were offered either as an aperitif or a post-supper liqueur, some of their home made sloe gin...it was delicious...amber-red nectar, neither too sweet nor too sour and a completely different animal from the mass-produced variety...
So, when I saw these little black beauties lining the canal path in the autumn I returned quick-smart with my basket to make sure I could make plenty & store it away (with a housewifely glow) ready for winter...
The sloe is the fruit of the blackthorn bush and looks a bit like a very small plum or damson (you can use damsons if you can't get your hands on sloes..) It's so easy to make - the hardest part is negotiating the thorns (remember blackTHORN bush!) but once you have gathered your sloe harvest it's simple:
For a 750 ml bottle you need:
About 450g sloes (or damsons)
700 ml gin (any old gin will do as you will be adding sugar)
250g caster sugar
Handful of roasted almonds
First, pick your sloes - don't wash them! Prick each one with a skewer or similar (or put in the freezer overnight & the skins will split - you want the flavour and colour to be released);
Put the sloes into a clean jar, add the gin, sugar & almonds. Seal the jar and put in a dark place for 2 - 3 months, turning the jar when you remember to dissolve the sugar.
Strain the liquid, discard the sloes and check for sweetness - if it's not sweet enough for your taste add more and shake to dissolve. I strained it through muslin to make sure it was clear...
One word of warning, if you go down the skewer route, don't do as I did and wear a white top I couldn't replace..(the sloes are black and they colour the gin red...you get the idea...)