Autumn is a great time of year and around this time you see Blackthorn trees bursting with their wonderful sloe berries. If you pick some this week, you can have your sloe gin ready for Christmas!
I usually buy myself some sloe gin at Christmas, but this year I'm going to make my own. I've been reading up on it and it seems simple. All you need to make this delicious drink are ripe sloe berries, caster sugar, a good gin and a sterilised bottle with a lid. This is how I'm planning to do it. Why don't you join me for a triple?
1. First of all, I picked ripe berries which were soft to the touch. Don't get the hard ones which don't want to pop when you press them.
2. I soaked the berries in water to get the insects out (two caterpillars emerged looking annoyed). I dried them and bagged them up in smallish batches.
3. I've put mine in the freezer which will make the thick skin of the berries split, to release their natural sweetness once soaked in the gin. I'm going to leave them there for at least 24 hours, while I go gin shopping. This is as far as I've got, as I'm price comparing Hendrick's Gin at the moment.
4. After at least 24 hours in the freezer, I'll half-fill my sterilised Kilner bottles with still-frozen berries. Then I'll top up the bottle with gin and add two tablespoons of caster sugar.
5. Next you've got to give the bottle a good shake.
6. Then find a secret dark cupboard and lay the bottle on its side. You need to turn the bottle or give it a shake every other day for two months. I'm going to put the bottle where I keep my coffee, so I'm reminded everyday to shake or turn it.
7. After two months, you'll be thirsty, so have a sip. If it's not sweet enough dissolve some sugar in water and add it to your bottle.
8. Strain the fruit off with a piece of muslin or whatever comes to hand.
9. At Christmas take out your gin (and your smug grin) and get everyone your know tiddly. If you don't drink it all at Christmas you can keep it, and bore people next Christmas as you chatter about how it really does improve with age.
I'll let you know how I get on, with more pictures... please let me know if you're having a go too! Xxxxxx