Sloe-blackthorn tree – Prunus spinosa

Blackthorn is a common species of the North European countryside with its dense spiny branches and familiar sloe berries in autumn. The sloe berries are very sour but not poisonous and are a small fruit relative of the plum.

Sloe Gin

Sloe gin

Sloe gin

Making sloe gin is slow but not laborious. There’s no cooking required, just patience as the berries steep in the gin. Sugar is required to ensure the juices are extracted from the fruit.

750ml gin
335g sloe berries
160g sugar

Here’s how to do it

Clean the sloes and dry them. Freeze to crack skin or prick with a fork. Add the berries and sugar to a sterilised jar, pour in the gin and shake vigorously. Keep in a dark & cool place and shake daily for 1 week then shake weekly for 3 months.
Decant liquid into bottles and enjoy

Did you know

The wood has been used for walking or riding sticks and was the traditional wood for Irish shillelaghs. After making and bottling the pitted gin-soaked sloes can be dipped into melted chocolate which is then allowed to set. Cooked sloes can also be used to make jam. In ancient times the fruits were buried in straw-lined pits and left for a few months to ripen and make them sweeter.

Blackthorn supports over 100 species of insect. It is a food plant for a great many moth and butterfly species, such as the lackey moth, magpie moth, black hairstreak and brown hairstreak. Nightingales favour dense thickets of blackthorn for nesting.

Back to food for free

Comments are closed.