INGREDIENTS

Making sloe gin is slow but not laborious. There's no cooking required, just patience as the sloes steep in the gin.

Drinks and cocktails

Buyer's guide

Sloes are picked in September and October, preferably after the first frost, and are sold in some farmers’ markets.

Preparation

Sloes are too bitter and sour to eat raw, but taste superb when preserved. They have an intense plum taste. Flavour them with orange zest, cloves, cinnamon or almond essence. Preserve them as sloe gin, sloe wine, sloe jelly, sloe syrup, and sloe plum cheese. A spoonful of sloe jelly can be added to plum pies or used in sponge cakes.

Traditionally, sloes used for sloe gin are picked after the first frost as this helps the alcohol to permeate the fruit. Alternatively prick each fruit with a darning needle, or spread them out on a baking tray and leave in the freezer for a couple of hours to simulate frost.