sloe-berries

3

realized I didn’t update you guys with this. we picked the sloe berries that grow just outside of our garden(and that try to sneak in) with my dad. they were so plentiful. we picked for about an hour or so and there were still so many left. then mum made juice from them which was a litte sour and had a gorgeous colour

Blackthorn/Le Prunellier - Prunus Spinosa

A small European tree with dark, thorny bark. Spring flowers are creamy white followed by purple-black berries. The berries, leaves and flowers are all useful but the astringent berries - also known as sloes - are best picked at this time of year, after the first frosts. High in tannins and vitamin C, they constrict blood vessels making them useful in treating wounds and haemorrhage. By reinforcing the muscular contraction of both the intestines and urinary tract, they are a good treatment for diarrhoea, bladder disorders and kidney stones. They can also treat eczema and skin disorders, allergies and colds.

The bark can be made into a decoction used to make a gargle to treat inflammation of the mouth and pharynx.

An infusion of the flowers is diuretic, purifying and laxative and can also ease menopausal symptoms.

Blackthorn is also used in flavouring sloe gin in the UK, made into Pacharan here in the Pyrenees or the apéritif épine noire elsewhere in France, as well as in jams and jellies.

The fruits, bark and leaves all make excellent dye.

4

We’ve just returned from a week’s holiday en fammile , sun kissed & gently exfoliated by the Anglesey sun & sand . It was beautiful, as always but just 50 yards away from the wind breaks and the buckets, was a secluded & lush coastal path which was a forager’s paradise. The sweetpeas rambled across the dunes & were stonkingly beautiful - much better than the runt-like specimens I have been cultivating back home with feed and canes. Along the path there were elderflowers (ready to pick), blackberries (on their way) and a huge crop of sloe berries - as yet unripe but minding their own business. There was also a nut / berry thing which I felt I should know but couldn’t identify it. It was tantalising & I spent the next few days wondering how I could harvest & keep the elderflowers til I got back to Manchester. Much to my regret, I left them but have been compensated by the first blueberry from the garden. One of only 6 , but a triumph !

How To: Sloe Gin | Alcohol/Cocktails

Sloe Gin is a delicious and festive treat that is easy to make. The berries, which come from the Blackthorn Tree are very tart and can leave the mouth feeling, “furry” after you take a bite. However, when left to infuse in gin for a couple months/years they can create a magical drink.

I got my berries from Bath in England but they are available throughout the UK and Ireland. Unsurprisingly, County Wicklow is known to have a good supply and they are best picked late in the year.

For a drink that is made with only three ingredients (sloes, sugar and gin) there is an inordinate amount of debate on how best to make this hedgerow hooch. I am new to the game, and here are the directions that I followed. I am going to leave my concoction for at least three months to infuse. I will let you all know the results!

You Will Need:

  • Sloe Berries (450g or Roughly Half a Kilner Jar as pictured)
  • Sugar (220g)
  • Gin (1 Litre. I suggest Gordan’s)

Directions:

1.) Wash And Freeze Berries

The traditional way of preparing sloes calls for pricking each berry a couple of times with a pin. This allows the juices to seep out into the gin. However, sticking them in a freezer bag overnight mimics the first frost of the year and splits the skins of the berries.

2.) Sterilise Your Kilner Jar

Boiling water or a run in the dishwasher will do the trick

3.) Mix Berries, Sugar And Gin Together In The Jar

Yes, it’s really that easy. A nice shake will dissolve the sugar. Place it in a cool dark place and swirl it lightly every other day for two weeks, then every couple of days for the coming months. 

4.) Strain And Bottle

Wait at least three months. The longer you wait the better the hooch will be. Strain it through a muslin cloth and bottle.