Make sure you've got the right recipe for your sloe gin batch this year. Ours is tried and tested!

Make perfect sloe gin this year with our ultimate recipe.

Of course you should really make your sloe gin 12 months in advance – so anything you make now should be ideal for this time next year. If this is your first time, we’ll forgive you for cracking and jumping in sooner than that… but do try and keep some for next year – it only improves.

And if you can’t find any – or enough – sloe berries? You can use the same recipe with damsons, or other similar fruits.

Top tip: When you’re picking from the blackthorn bushes do beware of the prickles…they still catch the most experienced pickers out.

Ingredients

12oz of fruit (350g)
3 oz of caster sugar (75g)
1 bottle of gin (75cl)
A small dash of almond essence
A couple of jam jars with good, tight-fitting lids (sterilized and cooled preferably)
A jelly bag
Decorative bottles for eventual storage

– – –

  • Wash the sloes in warm water, and remove (or drown!) any hitchhikers in insect form that may have made their way to the sink.
  • Using a sturdy needle (such as a darning needle) prick each fruit a few times, and divide the spoils between the two jam jars.
  • Put half the sugar and half the gin (or as much as will fit) into each jar.
  • Add a couple of drops of the almond essence to each one.
  • Close the lids tightly and store in a cool, dry, dark place.
  • Give the jars a good shake each day, until all of the sugar has dissolved.
  • Leave to mature for at least three months – but don’t let the fruit spoil, so no more than six.
  • Taste for sweetness, and add sugar if necessary/preferred.
  • Continue the ‘daily shakes’ until all of the newly added sugar has dissolved.
  • Carefully strain all the liquid through a jelly bag and decant into decorative bottles. (Don’t forget to label!).

Now the gin is ready to drink – but is best left to mature for a bit longer (a couple of months) – it will now keep indefinitely.

Don’t throw the sloes away after you’ve drained them – they are now deliciously sweet and can be covered in chocolate and eaten with ice-cream, or as a post-supper treat.

– – –

Follow Country Life magazine on Twitter

  • Jeremy

    What on Earth is a jelly bag? Help an American out!

  • Bob

    Rather than use a needle, try this clever little tool to prick the sloes. It will save lots of time: http://stuffiwanttomake.co.uk/the-amazing-pendse-sloe-pricking-device/

    Bob

  • David

    I’ve been making this for over 10 years; the longer you can store your sloe gin after bottling the better it becomes and I’m suggesting 5 years to mature.
    Pricking sloes is a headache (especially when you are making multiple bottles; anything (such as a rolling pin) which breaks the skin will do the job.
    Instead of using two jam jars a large capped jar holding your bottle or two or three is easier if you can get one.
    Be aware that you will get a bit more than the gin volume you put in; about two thirds of a pound jam jar extra for 1.5 litres of original gin. .

  • Penny

    If you want to avoid the tedious darning needle stage, you can put your washed, insect-free sloes into a plastic bag in the freezer. Once frozen, simply defrost and you will find that the skins will have split. We’ve been making it this way for years and it comes out deeply purple and delicious every time!

  • Fiona

    if anyone can’t find any sloes this year, we have masses on our Organic farm in Dorset. Email me if you want me to pick you some – it seems a shame to leave them!
    fiona@beremarshfarm.co.uk

  • Fiona

    if anyone can’t find any sloes this year, we have masses on our Organic farm in Dorset. Email me if you want me to pick you some – it seems a shame to leave them!