28 thoughts on “Sloe Vodka – Thoughtless Thursday

  1. Ruth

    Wow – what a great change in the colour of the vodka.

    Because I associate your site with bread, I’m now thinking about how the sloes could be used (after their very alcoholic bath) in some kind of sweet bread. Am I crazy? ;-)

    1. Joanna Post author

      I’ve heard of them being used in jam, desserts or enrobed in chocolate. But you never know, why not a sweet bread. Last year’s ones were still surprisingly bitter after their bath, the damsons I kept, they’re buried in the freezer somewhere… :D

  2. ceciliag

    Wow, what fantastic way to show us the product and the recipe, but i do not know what sloes ARE! little berries but do they have another name?. c

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Cecilia

      I was trying to do a post without words, I think I’m going to fail. Is it cheating to do the words in the commnents?

      The sloe is a relation of the plum, the fruit of the blackthorn.

      Sloe gin is a classic hedgerow tipple, beloved of foragers as a great excuse to get a little bit tiddly at Christmas. Traditionally you collect the sloes after the first frost, but in practice these days we pick them now, as one could be waiting for a long time for a frost (28 C today!!!) and either freeze them lightly or prick their skins before packing them in sugar and spirits for a couple of months before decanting and putting away for the following Christmas. :)

      I made my first lots last year, so that should be coming along nicely now.

      Posts from last year’s sloe adventures here :

      Sloes in Bristol How to make sloe gin and vodka

      Hedgerow Tales What to do when you haven’t labelled the jars…

  3. Abby

    So pretty! Can you use it once it changes color, or does it need to steep for a certain amount of time (like vanilla extract)?

    1. Joanna Post author

      Abby, it does already taste of sloes, but you should leave it eight weeks or so for maximum steepage, and then decant and store for a year or more, so they say….

      My Danish Grandfather used to pickle cherries in gin. He wasn’t supposed to drink after he got to a certain age, doctor’s orders and so on, so he used to feed us cherries out of the bottle and then take a swig when he thought no one was looking….

  4. Jeannette

    My daughter has just finished picking the sloes ready for this year’s stash, she will probably get me to help her when we visit them this weekend. We have made it a couple of times too, my husband usually comes back from his game of golf with a bag full and then I have to go back with him to get more… and more…. and more! It is lovely to have over Christmas though after all the work of making it.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Was given brilliant tip the other day, but maybe you know it already, instead of pricking each sloe by hand, stab stab stab…. put them on a tray and press or roll a small grater over them. I have a boxful in the freezer and if I get round to it I will definitely give it a go. What a lovely hubbie going and collecting sloes. Golf courses are great aren’t they? :D

  5. Tutak

    As I have just discovered the joys of gin, I have to ask….is there ready-to-drink sloe gin lurking chez Zebedee? We could toast sibling’s birthday etc…oh, and there’s a large number of empty jam jars on their way xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      There is indeed! Sloe gin spritzers maybe? Brian will be very excited about the jam jars, he is particularly keen on the tomato passata/sauce shaped ones at the moment, do you have any of those? But all jam jar donations are gratefully received :D

  6. heidi

    I love seeing your sloe vodka.
    Foraging is such a joyful activity!
    Diabetics are not supposed to drink- so I use my vodka for distilling vanilla extract.
    ( Although I think someone in our house Likes vanilla vodka- because the level is always lower by far each time I go to use it)
    Curiouser and curiouser.
    Apple cider vinegar and sloe vodka- I wonder what elixir you will come up with next?

    1. Joanna Post author

      I drink very little Heidi! I just like the process of collecting the berries and doing something with them. One little tot of anything as strong as this and I go quite pink, I have no head for drink. I’ve got to find some little bottles to decant what we made last year into and then I can offer it as gifts. There’s a confession. But it looked pretty with the sun behind the jars, and I have a weakness for sunshine and glass….

  7. teawithhazel

    i love the idea of making sloe vodka but we don’t have them here but carl said damsons and elderberries can be used too..when i was in greece i made a similar concoction from sour cherries, sugar, spices and brandy..even though i loved the whole rigmarole i didn’t really like the sweet spicy flavour of it..

    1. Joanna Post author

      We made some with damsons last year and then forgot to label the jars and it tastes very similar. Sloe gin is one of those names that makes me think of the countryside, maybe like applejack does in the US? Your Greek cherry brandy liqueur sounds very rich. This year we have used far less sugar on Carl’s recommendation than the Pam Corbin recipe gives. I am sure it will get drunk one day by someone or given away… It does have (apart from being very strong) a lovely bitter almond and plum taste and a great colour :)

  8. cityhippyfarmgirl

    I’m waiting for summer to hit so I can try a cherry/sugar fermenting thing. Two Serbians at different times recently have told me about it and I think it would be a crying shame not to try and do it.
    Like you though I think I like the process of trying it all out rather than actually drinking it, (it doesn’t take much for dancing on tables and long nights of karoke to sound like a good idea ;-)
    I keep meaning to find some pretty little bottles so I can give something like this away as presents.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Yes, get fermenting and then decant into teeny weeny bottles and give it away. Good plan !

      Another confession. I’ve never done karaoke, maybe I should try to drink more enthusiastically ;) I rarely sing, when I do people beg me to stop… though I quite like singing along to the medley on the World Service when I am half asleep and I used to like making noise in tunnels just to hear the vibrato/echo coming back…

      Early one mor-or-ning just as the sun was rising…..

  9. spiceandmore

    I love the names ‘sloe’ and ‘damson’….but the visual image lets them down. They should be something more exotic looking don’t you think? Or perhaps it is only exotic-sounding to those of us who live in other parts of the world….
    Sloe vodka does look rather lovely though…and it sounds good too “I am having a sloe (slow) vodka on the back deck watching the sunset” or something like that!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Maybe they’re like our birds, which don’t tend to look very exotic either ?

      These little fruits grow in the hedgerows and the scrubby edges of parks and golf courses in the green parts of the city, along with blackberries and little cherries and crabapples and the nuts I wrote about earlier this year. They are free to pick and full of flavour and in that lies their charm and delight for people like me who grow weary of tasteless imported plums which have sat in a chiller warehouse for many months.

      Many people commented this summer that despite having a bumper fruit harvest, the big supermarkets are still selling imported produce while our own orchard produce is left rotting on the ground. The supermarkets say of course that their contracts can not be changed at short notice and they have to have a constant and regular supply chain, but it’s sad, and it’s also sad that the cherry and plum orchards of England have for the most part been grubbed up and that fruits like the Kentish Whiteheart (a superlative yellow and pink cherry) are seen only in collections or in people’s gardens.

      These are the early pictures too, the colour deepens to an outrageous deep red as the juices seep into the alcohol over time :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Mez! Mine hasn’t fizzed up so I don’t know the answer to this, I don’t think this is like making wine or beer, as the alcohol is already present, sounds like yours is fermenting somehow.

      Edit: I have asked Carl (see comment below) for his advice Mez…..

      1. Carl Legge (@CarlLegge)

        Yes Joanna, definitely sounds like a fermentation has started. I’ve be interested Mez to know what quantities of sloes/sugar/spirit you used. If you used very little spirit, I can see it’s possible that the natural yeasts on the fruit could feed on the sugar producing CO2 as a by-product. In the normal course of events, the high alcohol concentration of the spirits would kill the yeasts and other organisms – this is after all why it’s used to preserve things.

        On the face of it, they should be safe to drink if it is a fermenting, so best to wait and see.

        On the other hand, you could increase the concentration of alcohol and this should stop the fizz.

        Let us know

        Carl :)

        1. Mez

          Thanks Carl, I think I used more sugar than I should of more spilled in than I wanted!!!. The later bottles of sloe vodka and cherry vodka were ok.
          I gave my sister-in-law some of the sloe vodka before it started to fizz telling her to leave it for a few weeks as it was only about three weeks old then. But she just couldn’t leave it but she seems ok and said it was lovely.
          Anyway the fizzing seems to have slowed down a lot now – so fingers crossed.
          Thanks a lot

          Sorry Jo I still haven’t found my way around the site yet.

          1. Joanna Post author

            No worries! If you tick the box that says ‘notify me of follow up comments via email, then that helps you find your way back to where you were. The downside of that is that you get emails notifying you of any comment, not just the answers to yours. I’m pleased you came back and glad that your sister in law was happy :)

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