I spotted my very first sloes out in the wild the other day, and as a big fan of gin this was very exciting for me. I love Sloe Gin have always wanted to have a go at making my own. There appeared to be an abundant supply, however, I was on another mission at the time (namely the Tottenham Beer Trail) so vowed to come back another day and do some foraging.
Unfortunately, it took me a couple of weeks to return to the spot….. and the bounty had already been spotted by other keen eyes! Most of the the easy to reach fruit had been harvested or was looking past it’s prime. I could spy branches laden with juicy sloes way up above my head, but had no way of reaching them. Determined not to go back empty handed, I did a little bit of searching inside the bushes, and was able to locate a number of perfectly ripe sloes.
It was fairly slow going, and ominous clouds started to gather above me, so I went home with what I thought was a fairly small haul. However, after consulting the River cottage Booze book I discovered that I had more than enough for a couple of batches of Sloe Gin.
While I was out on this foraging expedition I also spotted loads of Hawthorn trees, full of lovely red Haws. So I decided to pick some of these, to boost my harvest. And was very please to discover that these can also be made into gin!
Making gin infusions is ridiculously easy, you just pop the Fruit, Berries or selected flavouring into a jar, add sugar and then top with gin! The hardest part is waiting for it to infuse, which takes at least 3 months and preferably up to a year. So I look forward to enjoying these tipples next Christmas!
For more information on foraging in your local area, check out Alys Fowler’s excellent guide, The Thrifty Forager. Several people stopped to question me about foraging while I was out picking (actually everyone who passed was curious), they wanted to know what the berries & fruit were, if they were edible and what you can do with them. I’m no expert, but shared the information I knew and told them to double check before eating anything. However, the biggest lesson that I learned on this particular foray into foraging is: Don’t wait! Always carry a spare plastic bag with you and pick when you see it!