Back in November after we’d had the first frost, I went sloe picking with the delightful Miss Daisy. Maybe the Blackthorn trees likes damp marshy ground, because near where I live there are lots of Blackthorn trees and last year the sloes were beautifully large and plump. Unluckily for us, we weren’t the first to go picking, so all the lower branches had been picked clean. So I had to carefully avoid those deadly looking thorns and slowly pull the higher branches down so Daisy could pick them while I held on for dear life (all the while hoping that the branch wouldn’t ping back and get me in the face). My hair only got a little bit tangled and although my shoulders and back ached like billy-oh the next day, we’d had a fun morning out and between us had picked somewhere in the region of 7 lb of sloes.
Rather than make the traditional Sloe Gin, I decided to make some Sloe Vodka, to which I added some spices to give it a little more depth. On tasting it some months after I made it, I’ve decided it tastes like a very grown up version of Tixylix (a sweet red cough syrup that we had when we were little)….. it is very throat warming and I think would be very nice with some lemonade, however it does hit the spot when you come in out of the cold and just have a wee sip.
Within a few days the vodka begins to take on a beautiful rich and jewel bright pink colour, which is very heart uplifting to see on a cold gloomy winter morning. (When you are giving the jar the morning shake, it’s very cheery to see.)
It’s always best to pick sloes after the first of the frosts, their tough outer skin will have been softened by the cold weather. If it hasn’t been cold enough for a frost then put your sloes overnight in the freezer and this will do the same thing.
Sloes (about 500g)
vodka (about 800ml)
caster sugar (250g – 275g)
whole spices such as star anise, cloves, cinnamon
Large glass jar for infusing the vodka and sloes.
Pick over your sloes and make sure that you have removed any stems that may still be attached to the berries. Put the sloe berries into a large jar which has been sterilised.
Cover with the sugar and add your chosen spices. You don’t need to add many, a little goes a long way.
Pour over the vodka, and seal the jar.
Give the jar a good old shake and then place in a dark cupboard.
Every day, or every other day, give the jar another good shake, this helps the sugar to dissolve.
Your Sloe Vodka should be ready to drink after about 3 months.
Strain, and discard the sloes and the spices. (you don’t want to leave the sloes in the vodka for longer than this as they begin to dis-colour and look unpleasant) Have a little taste of your vodka. You may like it a bit sweeter, if so, add some more sugar and give it a good shake.
Re-bottle the vodka into smaller sterilised bottles and seal.
The labels I’ve used were a present from Sasha and are some vintage home preserve and candy labels from the seventies. Using them makes me feel very much like Barbara from The Good Life.