Picking Sloes

Cluster of sloe berries on a branch

Tom found a blackthorn bush on his run yesterday, laden with sloes ripe for the picking.  So we returned today, eager to fill a box.  I’ve heard mention of sloe gin before, but it wasn’t until Tom was given a bottle for Christmas last year that I realised what all the fuss was about.  A sweet, red liqueur with a warm burn just perfect to be sipped by the fire in December.  Sloes are a beautiful berry, far more satisfying to pick than blackberries as they don’t crumble in your hands, and there seems an abundance of them on each bush.

Bryony reaching up high for sloe berries

Close-up of picking sloe berries

Beyond the grunting of pigs in the field behind, the countryside was quiet.  It seems noone really uses this path, so we were free to pick in piece.  On such a grey day, this, our first sloe-picking expedition, was the perfect excuse for some outdoor time before the rain set in.  Now we just need to turn this box of beautiful dusty purple fruit in to some winter liqueur worthy of its fine reputation.

Close up of collected sloe berries

Bryony walking home with sloe berries

3 thoughts on “Picking Sloes

  1. This is one of the joys of where we live – lots of hedgerows with yummy things on waiting to made into winter treats

    One tip is to freeze the sloes, not only does it cut down on pricking each one with a bodkin but also replicates the first frost so you don’t have to wait to pick them

    • Ooh, thank you for the tip! Will definitely try that. And I’ll be looking out on your blog for other winter hedgerow ideas!

  2. ah sloe gin, I too was persuaded to make it (despite not liking gin) by the rich velvety christmas sampling of a friend’s. Sadly I was greatly disappointed. I too followed the tip of freezing to reduce the need for pricking but my skins didn’t burst as predicted so after a year in the bottle it was still pretty much gin with berries floating in it. And trying to stab sloes from within a bottle is nigh impossible. So my lesson in preserving is you have to put the effort in to get the exquisite out! http://nipitinthebud.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/making-sloe-gin/
    thanks for the reminder, I’d best go edit my post with my ‘sloe gin fail’. Oh and the suggestion to put a vanilla pod in as a sugar replacer … don’t try that either!