Okay, it could have been even slower, had we planted sloe berries, rather than the lovely saplings that came to us as a delightful Christmas present a few years ago. But just waiting for the first fruits to emerge from them has been long enough, thank you!
Two days ago I harvested 25 sloe fruits from that planting, getting shockingly scratched in the process. I’ve heard about thornless blackthorn (surely an egregious oxymoron) but our bushes are pretty darn thorny! Carrie laughed and laughed, but it felt like a significant milestone: the first sloes from our very own hedgerows! I had quite a calculation to do to modify the standard recipe down to accommodate the tiny harvest.
- 500g of sloe berries
- 250g sugar
- 700ml of gin
- A container twice the size of the gin bottle
So, for our little droplet of our very own sloe gin to be, I reckoned I would need:
- given 30g of our very own sloe berries
- 15g of sugar
- 42ml of gin
- The smallest jam jar we could find
Carefully pricking each berry many times with a pin (I could easily perform many such stabbings since there were only the few berries, after all), I added the sugar and gin, whirling the mixture around. In a couple of hours the sugar was dissolved. The next morning, a faint tint of pink was visible, which deepened through the day.
Opinions differ as to how long in the dark one should leave the slowly-suffusing sloe berries with the gin before enjoying the liqueur. But for purely ceremonial purposes, you understand, I reckon a neat two months from when we put the concoction up, so, Christmas Day then. Shared out between 8 mouths this year, that will make a grand total of some 5ml per person, the merest teaspoon of taste. But still. Already we’re collecting silver thimbles to cope with the demand.
Ha ha ha . . . It’s the principle, isn’t it? And next year the harvest is likely to be better! But until then, I rather suspect we’ll avail ourselves of Will Stonehouse’s wares on Allendale Spirit, achieving much the same result without acquiring any nasty thorn scratches in the process!