This year we've been fairly organised, and back in Autumn, we picked bags and bags of sloes, to make sloe gin. It has apparently been a good year for sloes due to the mild weather, so we picked plenty as you can freeze them for next year too.
|They make lovely gifts- use some nice bottles, ribbons, labels etc.|
This is the recipe we used:
225g/8oz caster sugar
1 litre/1¾ pint gin
Firstly, in order to extract the juices from the sloes, you must pierce their skins. A great way to do this is to firstly freeze them in a bag, then when fully frozen, give them a smash with a rolling pin. This will break their skins, without getting juice everywhere, and will also mean you don't have to sit there piercing each individual sloe which can be time consuming.
Then put the prepared sloes in a big seal-able container. Add the sugar and gin and shake well.
You need to store it in a cool, dark place (we put ours in the garage) and shake every day for a week.
After the first week, shake once a week for at least two months.
When you're ready to bottle up, simply strain the sloe gin through muslin into a sterilised bottle. Make sure you get some nice bottles, as it's great to give as present- ebay or amazon is a good place to look, although we found some at our local hardware shop.
|Decanting the sloe gin|
The final product is fruity and delicious, and the most amazing vibrant colour. It really is very easy, it just takes a bit of planning and organisation. But it's certainly worth it, and it saves you a bit of last minute present panic, knowing you can give people a bottle of this.
You can serve it as a liqueur after dinner, or add it to a glass of champagne, (apparently called a 'Sloe Royale' or 'Sloe Gin Fizz') to start Christmas off with a bang- it certainly put our family in the party mood pretty quickly!
|Enjoying a Sloe Royale overlooking the Scottish hills|
|We enjoyed ours with some smoked salmon, sour cream and caviar blinis, and smoked salmon on brown bread. Smoked salmon from the Galloway Smokehouse- you won't find any better: http://www.gallowaysmokehouse.co.uk/|