I don’t have any pictures to help you identify them but do try this site here. As always, know what you are doing before you pick anything in the big wide world, there are some not so nice berries out there too. Watch out for the berries of the deadly nightshade which can be confused with sloes. Make sure you take an identification book with you if you are unsure at all. Some years there are lots of sloes, some years not so many, keep looking and one day you will find them. What to do with the tart, mouth puckering little berries?
Sloe gin or sloe vodka I guess. You need at least 500 grams of sloes, prick them or freeze them to soften the skins. Add approximately the same weight of sugar, fill your container with alchohol. Shake once a day for a week. When you think it is ready 8 – 10 weeks later, after a little judicious tasting, strain the berries out.
Pam Corbin says you can use the gin sozzled berries in a pie at this point, and you could probably use them to make chocolates I reckon, Anyway at this point you bottle the liqueur – what a lovely word that is, sounds a bit like liquorice – and LEAVE for 18 months. Allison made some beautiful hedgerow liqueurs – there I’ve said it again ! – which she brought to the Dales Dough Do so I hope that if she reads this post she will add if there are any finer points I have missed out!
I bet there are some stunning cocktails to be made.
I have made a little sloe gin and some damson vodka too as we found some beautiful damsons at Birches Farm Shop, Cambridge Batch which unlike many other ‘farm shops’ really has home grown vegetables for sale. . Going to see steam trains has its uses, you find places you didn’t know before!
If you make sloe gin do tell me how you like to drink it best!