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How To Make Sloe Gin

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by Oxford Explorer (subscribe)
I'm a Mum of two boys living in Oxfordshire, enjoying lots of fun activities and writing about them when I get a chance.
Published September 3rd 2012
A tasty homemade tipple
Homemade Sloe Gin is a delightful tipple for a winter's evening. With a deep red hue and sweet taste, this liquer will tempt you to make it year after year. If you can bear to give it away, it makes a great Christmas present.

Rarely do I come across a recipe that is both incredibly simple and utterly delicious. Part of the appeal is that you don't need to be exact when making Sloe Gin, so I've given a rough guidance only. Now that we're into September it's time to get plundering before seasoned Sloe Gin makers have snaffled all the ones in easy reach.

Step 1 - Get foraging and pick your sloes

Sloes are the berries of the Blackthorn bush and are prevalent in Britain but also found through Europe and into Western Asia. The thorny bush can be found in many hedgerows with the sloes a dark black / purple colour. Picked straight from the bush, the berries are bitter and definitely not a tasty snack. When steeped in gin, their magic is released. If you're unlikely to get out to the countryside or feel a bit lazy, then keep an eye out for sloes at a farmer's market.

Step 2 - Prepare your sloes
Prick the skin of each sloe a few times or lay them on a tray in the freezer so that the skin bursts. The pricking or freezing will allow all the juices to be released into the gin.

Step 3 - Assemble
Fill a bottle (I usually use an old gin bottle) 1/3rd to 1/2 full of sloes, add a cup of caster sugar and top up with gin. Don't use your fancy expensive gin, there's really no need. Cheap gin will be transformed by the sloes and time. Then, give it all a good shake and put it in a dark cupboard.

Step 4 - Turn the bottle
Every so often over the next few days or just when you remember, turn the bottle over or give a shake. The sugar will eventually disolve and then you can forget about it until Christmas.

Step 5 - Decant and enjoy
Sieve the gorgeous red liquer and decant. If you're giving as a present you can get lovely looking bottles to provide that added wow factor.

Sloe Gin
A tasty tipple

Sloe Gin is perfect sampled neat or with a piece of ice to chill it down. If you want to get snazzy then there are lots of different cocktails you can try. Why not suggest your own in the comments box?

If this has taken your fancy, try making Damson Vodka or Blackberry Brandy.
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Why? A tasty tipple
When: Sep & October
Where: Countryside hedgerows
Cost: Free sloes plus cost of gin
Your Comment
Aaron & Lucy
After your comments I started doing a bit more research. It seems that sloes are most prevalent in the UK as the spiky blackthorn bush was used to 'fence' fields along time ago. It doesn't seem to have been introduced to Australia so perhaps you could try something a little different.

Alternatives to Sloes
- Damsons seem to be the most common alternative. They're a type of plum but perhaps not available in Australia either. Maybe try small dark skinned plums and make in a large jar as they won't squeeze into a bottle.

- If you can find blackberries (or brambles as I was brought up calling them in Scotland) then this has been recommended by a friend of mine. No need to prick the skins

- Some people have tried using tinned or frozen fruit like cherries or raspberries. I have no idea how well this would work but could be fun trying.

If you try something different, I would love to hear your results
by Oxford Explorer (score: 2|655) 2022 days ago
Sloe gin is definately worth making.Lovely for Christmas time although it tastes better with age. I have made it several times back in the UK. Does anyone know where I could find sloes around the Brisbane area?
Lucy (now longing for a taste of home)
by lucyb (score: 0|5) 2022 days ago
Ooooooh an excellent article I want to taste it! Love gin at the best of times
by Julian Groneberg (score: 3|1802) 2022 days ago
Apparently found in the wild in Northern Tasmania - or you can buy your own sloe bush and plant in the garden. (maybe quite a lot of effort to go to for this years Christmas presents!)
by Jane Street (score: 2|438) 2021 days ago
This looks great Claire! Thank you - Haley
by haley (score: 0|3) 2024 days ago
What can be used instead of sloe's in Australia? I've never heard if them??
by aaron (score: 0|6) 2023 days ago
mmm for those of us who are not familiar with sloes, how would we recognise them, and be sure we are not concocting a deadly brew from poisonous berries that look similar? I love the idea of this, but did not know sloes could be found in Australia.
by e_law (score: 2|354) 2021 days ago
Aaron and Lucy, we had damson plums as children, and i have seen them at farmers markets, occasionally supermarkets. I am enjoying resding other ideas for using different fruits. great gift idea.Elizabeth
by e_law (score: 2|354) 2021 days ago
i bought a sloe bush from Woodbridge fruit trees in Tasmania and one day may have my own sloe gin . Wendy Brisbane
by immog (score: 0|3) 1967 days ago
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