Thursday, January 25, 2007

Yes, I know the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan is dire and Iran is not far behind. I know Fidel Castro is ill and might not live. I know, I know. But my Sloe Gin is ready to drink! I've been looking at it steeping, mellowing and improving in great big sealer jars and it is delicious! Epiphany was the day. I cracked open the first sealer and it's just right. There were mockers who said it was going to be too sweet. They said I'd picked too early. Nah - It's just right. Less sugar and everybody would have had Deaconess faces.

It begins with Sloes. Sloes are in the same family as plums. They are the fruit of the Blackthorn bush - a hedging shrub here in the UK. Little white flowers are followed by blueberry sized fruits with single stones in them. They are practically inedible off the bush. Bite into one periodically just to remind yourself of that. Very sour. Not nice.

You pick yourself a few quarts of these and then you sit down in front of the fire with a wooden toothpick and you poke each and every one a couple of times. You get to the point eventually where you can pick up three sloes at a time. You fill a big (1.5 litre) sealer jar just a smidge over half full and then you pour the berries back out into a scale and weigh them. You add half that much sugar by weight, pour the berries back into the jar and then fill it with gin. This year I used Tesco Value gin at about 37% alcohol because it was cheapest (I filled six big sealer jars with sloe gin so I've got some to give away). Rumour has it that you should not scrimp on gin but should get the stronger variety at about 43% alcohol but I don't intend to be that picky or that spendthrift.

The gin will begin to colour after a day or two. You twirl the jam sealer a couple of times a day for the first three weeks and then every two or three days after that. Normally you pick your sloes in early October. You can't touch the stuff until Epiphany! Some people leave it sitting with berries in for six months or more. You can then decant it out into bottles and leave it for as long as you like. The colour will go if it's exposed to the light. It will taste great but look fairly dull and brown. As for me and my household, we will drink it .....right now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to leave some for the clergy conference in November!