How to make Sloe Gin
Gin. No need for expensive brands but 40% proof or more best.
Sloes. Best picked in October.
Sugar. Any will do but we prefer Muscovado
Wash the sloes and pull out stems, remove leaves etc. Freeze them, then put them in a bowl and pour boiling water of them to split the skins. Put them in the gin, add the sugar then seal the container and store in a cool dark place, shaking it from time to time to mix the ingredients. Best kept for 6 months before drinking.
We use the following recipe to fill a 4.5 litre (1 gallon) glass demijohn:
1.1 kilogram sloes, 3.5 litres gin, 400 grams sugar
To fill a standard 75 ml wine bottle:
180 grams sloes, 0.6 litres gin, 50 grams sugar
You could use more sloes for a stronger flavour, or less sugar to make it less sweet but more sugar will probably not dissolve properly. I've come across various ratios including:
1 sloes to 1.7 gin to 450 sugar
1 sloes to 1.5 gin to 500 sugar
1 sloes to 1.1 gin to 100 sugar
It is commonly suggested that sloes are best picked after the first frosts in October. We tend to pick then in late September, partly because it seems to make little difference to the sloes to pick them earlier, but mainly because there are more on the bushes because they haven't been picked by anyone else yet!
Pricking sloes before bottling them is often suggested but this is time-consuming and tedious. We prefer our method of freezing them quickly thawing them to open up the skins. It seems to work well. Pulling out the stems from the sloes also helps open the flesh up to the gin.
Most types of sugar will do but we do prefer the flavour of Muscovado sugar. Some recipes include whole almonds: we've tried it and it didn't seem to make much difference.
Sloe gin is best stored in a cool and dark place and should keep for years.