Homemade sloe gin makes a fantastic gift and is really easy to prepare using three simple ingredients; gin, sugar and sloes. The dark blue fruit of the blackthorn tree (Prunus spinosa) appear in abundance on its branches from late summer until the end of autumn and although they taste horribly tart when eaten fresh, they add a complex flavour and a dark ruby red colour to gin. After making, sloe gin should ready to drink in as little as two months, but try to be patient – the longer you can leave it the better it will taste.
Start by getting your ingredients and materials together. You will need a sterilised glass bottle, some caster sugar, a bottle of gin and enough sloes to half fill your empty bottle.
Prepare the sloes
Wash the sloes in cold water, then prick the hard skin a few times with a clean needle or skewer to allow the flavours to escape and infuse the gin.
Add some sugar
Tip your sloes into the bottle and add some caster sugar. About 250g should do it, but you can always taste it for sweetness later and add more if necessary.
Top up with gin
Fill the bottle with gin and put in a cool, dry, dark place, such as cupboard. Give the bottle a gentle shake every other day to help the sugar dissolve.
Let it mature
Let the sloe gin mature between two to six months, then strain the liquid into a new bottle through a muslin cloth to remove the fruit. It’s now ready to serve.
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