I bring you another foraged recipe. I can’t quite pinpoint the obsession with wild food. I think it’s the idea of getting something for nothing that has been growing all year naturally by itself, made all the more exciting by the fact it is only available for a short period of the year.
Much like blackberries, sloes can be foraged from local hedgerows, although they are less common. The sloe bush (correctly known as a blackthorn tree) looks as below and the Woodland Trust have some information here if you are unsure on identification.
The gin making process is very easy (although involves a bit of commitment over a couple of months) and the result is delicious. Not only that, a bottle of standard gin is much cheaper than the expensive sloe gin finished product.
Make now and it’ll be ready in time for Christmas – maybe you’re nice enough to give it as a present but i won’t judge you if want to keep it all to yourself!
70 cl bottle of gin
2 tbsp granulated sugar*
approx 600 g sloes
a small twig from the sloe bush, including a thorn
Step 1. Wash the sloes and prick each one twice with the sloe thorn. (Or you could just use the tip of a knife or a needle but beware the juice stains.)
Step 2. Divide the sloes between two large kilner jars or similar. Add a tablespoon of sugar to each.
Step 3. Add 35 cl of gin to each of the jars.
Step 4. Keep in a cool, dark place. Shake each day for a week and then each week for a couple of months (or longer if you can resist).
Step 5. Pour the mixture into another vessel through a sieve and muslin to remove the sloes and and debris and leave you with a delicious drink.
*There are recipes out there with a lot more sugar than this, but I personally think this is sufficient.
[Recipe inspired by one by Roger Phillips from Wild Food, an old but excellent book belonging to my Mum]