James’ parents have a lovely farm on the beautiful west coast of Pembrokeshire in Wales. Visiting is the perfect opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life for a couple of days, go for long walks, not worry about what time it is and just relax.
The end of one of their fields is home to a considerable number of blackthorn trees, which bear the sloe berry. And we all know the only reason sloe berries grow is so that we can pick them and make a delicious gin aperitif from them.
When we returned home, sloes in hand, we removed any unwanted bits of twigs, leaves etc and popped them in the freezer. The freezing and thawing process breaks the skin of the berries allowing the wonderful flavour to infuse into the gin. Freezing the berries is a lot easier than pricking each berry with a pin, as was tradition.
Before you get started, make sure you are equipped with a funnel and sealable bottle/s – HomeSense is great for all these supplies.
Berries frozen, we divided them between two bottles.
We then added approximately an equal amount of caster sugar to berries to the bottles.
Then pour in your gin – it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, the cheap stuff will do as the berries and all that sugar will give the liquor its flavour.
Give them a good old shake every day for the first three or four days to help dissolve the sugar and get all the flavour mixed in. They should be just about ready in a couple of months – perfectly timed for a Christmas tipple.
Continue to shake them up in this time to make sure everything is combined and the flavour from the berries can be released into the gin.
Sloe gin often tastes better the longer you leave it, so don’t be in a rush to drink it – if you can help it!