This small image shows you a hedgerow of Blackthorn bushes. Their blossom is glorious but sadly it is often the harbinger of a repeated blast of winter chill which often happens just as you think Spring has finally arrived. The Blackthorn flowers from early March through to mid April, depending on seasonal variations.
I have no idea why this should be so, but country folk from Shropshire to Suffolk will attest to the cold being beckoned by the Blackthorn blossom. ‘Keep yer jerkin tight.’ Now that is all very well but when the sun warms your back and heats your face, its then the temptation to open the jerkin or doff the cardigan is hard to resist. Yet, on the same day, come late afternoon you will be reaching for them again. It’s a tricksey time this early spring with temperatures rising and droping so fast.
I happen to love the Blackthorn. To see the froth of flowers in the hedgrows is wonderful, for each blossom offers the promise of a bright blue Sloe berry.
I also know once they have bloomed the next splashes of gleaming white will be the precious and darling May.
Sloe berries are a key component to a very delicous drink. Sloe berry gin is still enjoyed all through the countryside by those who know how to create it.
Here is a starter recipe for you but you won’t be able to use it until September time when the sloe berries are ripe. Some say you must wait until after the first frost to pick your sloes, but others wail, by then they are all gone. I’d say look for clean spots well away from traffic etc and take some when you first think they look ripe. If they last on the bush until after the first frost pick more.
- 700ml (70CL) bottle of any London Dry gin
- 320g prepared sloes
- 150g caster sugar
How to get the desired drink.
Before you are ready to make the brew put the sloes in a plastic bag and place them in a freezer. This will break the skins.This is a major tip as it stops the need for pricking each single little berry before it goes in the sterilised jar.
Defrost the sloes before you use them. You need enough sloes to cover the bottom third of the bottle.
Pour the sugar, gin over the top of the sloes in the bottle and seal. Shake the stuff about a bit to disperse the sugar.
Alternate days for the next month give the bottle a shake until the sugar is gone. Then leave it alone until you want to use try it.
Take a tiny sip and check taste. If you want more sweetness add more sugar and repeat the shaking process.
When the taste is right for you, strain into a fresh sterilised bottle and dispose of the sloes if you want. Some people keep them.
You will have a glorious rose red brew to enjoy.
If you try this and it works for you do let me know. If you have an different recipe for Sloe gin, do let me know, too.
Thanks for reading.