Last week's wild fruit horde was sweeter than ever for the simple reason that we brought home a huge amount of that acrid berry, the sloe.
Sloes are only really good for one thing and that is plonked in a jar or a bottle with a load of sugar and alcohol. In the raw form a bitten sloe can make even the most beautiful of faces turn inwards and cause children to run screaming. However, a long soak in sugar and booze and the true qualities show, permeating gin or vodka with unique floral flavour and smells making the risk of a nasty cut from its spiky home in the blackthorn bush all worthwhile.
I now wait patiently as the sloes sit in a demijohn in the garage doing what they do best. 3 months should do it but if you can resist it, the longer the marinade the better the flavour and a more intense, purple colour.
(Multiply the ingredients depending on your pickings)
500g caster sugar
2 litres gin
1 - Wash and pick your sloes. Now the bit that causes debate. Do you spend an age pricking each berry to allow the juices to flow or do you freeze then thaw allowing the skin to burst naturally? It is up to you, but I bashed mine in a pestle and mortar and will sieve carefully when it comes to bottling.
2 - Pile into a sterilised demijohn or large clean bottles. Pour in the sugar and gin, seal tightly, shake well and place in a cool dark place. Give it a shake every week.
3 - After a minimum of 3 months, pour through a muslin cloth into clean sterilised bottles and it is ready to drink, however the longer you leave it the better it will get.