Home made Sloe gin (the alcohol content in this recipe is about 25%) is unlikely to be viewed as a key weapon in the arsenal of the self-sufficient gardener, forager or bush-crafter. I will assure you that sipping a dram of the purple stuff, and regaining the sensation in your fingers and toes on a icy ferreting (or fishing) day might slightly change this view. The infusing and maturing process takes 6 months altogether, so expect to enjoy your sloe-gin the following year: All good things come to he who waits!
The blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) berry or Sloe is similar to a miniature plum or damson, but too astringent to be eaten straight from the bush. Sloes are ideally harvested from the end of October until November when frost has softened the fruit and reduced the astringency. Alternatively, sloes can also be stored in the freezer to allow for an earlier sloe harvest.
This is what you need to make about 1 1/4 litre sloe-gin:
450 g ripe sloes
225 g caster sugar
1 Litre dry gin
1 cinnamon stick
Remove stalks and leaves from the sloes, wash them and prick them all over with a sterile needle. Add the clove and a cinnamon stick to a botteling jar (ones which can be sealed air-tight), then add the sloes. Pips are essential for the almond-like flavour of sloe-gin, so do not remove them.
Dissolve the sugar in the gin (use a bowl) and pour it onto the sloes. Cover the jars or bottles and store in a cool dark place for 3 months, giving them a shake every week to re-distribute the fruit flavour. Strain, bottle and store for 3 months before serving. Any excess sloe gin can be placed in a seperate jar or bottle.