Sloes (Blackthorn) are very small, green-fleshed, inky-skinned, wild plums with an acid flesh and bitter skin. They’re commonly found in hedgerows in England, Wales and Ireland and make a fabulous jam. Raise a glass to our choice of classic sloe gin recipes.
Sloes are picked in September and October, preferably after the first frost, and are sold in some farmers’ markets.
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.