Sloe Process.

This evening, we started the long process towards homemade sloe gin. It is a very exciting thing.

This is the basic recipe that we have used:

  • 1lb (450g) sloe berries
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 1litre gin (bog standard, no need for Hendrick’s or similar)


The very fact that I am in a position to make sloe gin is due to The Internet and the goodwill of nice people. After asking on twitter where it could be sourced, a man called Peter from a lunch-time establishment I frequent a lot (PJ Taste, it’s dead nice) offered to forage them for me.

"For Gregory Povey, good luck!" PJ Taste-foraged sloe berries.

I’m really grateful to Peter and his foragers. I would like to go berry hunting, but time has got away with me at the minute.

Plump and shiny sloes.

I’ve previously stated that I love tactile activities, and it’s a bloody good job that I do. Making sloe gin is intensely laborious and manual. Apart from buying the gin, there doesn’t seem to be any short cuts. Key to making good sloe gin (I have read), is the process of pricking the berries.

Every single one. Many many times.

Sloe pricking. (Photo using Instagram app)

It helps to have a good autumn ale on the go. In this instance, Bath Ales’ Gem.

The recipe calls for 1lb (450g) of the pert bastards. I only pricked half of that amount over a forty-minute period. My fingers were pruned and stained:

Prune finger.

After that, it’s fairly straight forward.

Put the pricked sloes in a big bottle (a demijohn, or a one litre spirit bottle seems like a good idea). Mix the gin and sugar and pour over the berries. Leave to sit for a bit, then upturn. Then leave to sit for a bit, then upturn. You are supposed to upturn daily for two weeks, then once a week every month until you’re ready to try it.

Sloe gin, day one.

We have two bottles on the go. One is a straight adherence to the basic recipe above, the other is a “Christmas spiced” version that I improvised. I threw in a star anise, five allspice, 3/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

It’s a shame we have to wait a year to find out if it is in any way enjoyable to drink.

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6 thoughts on “Sloe Process.

    • The berries should be around until December, I think. Late October/early November is the ideal time to pick, but preferably after a frost.

      You should be able to get loads near your remote Leeds gaff.

      I will let you know next Christmas whether the Christmas one is nice.

  1. A year? Most recipes I found said it’d be good within a couple of months.

    Also, some recipes suggested putting the sloes in a freezer overnight after pricking them?

    • I think it’ll be good within a couple of months, but excellent after a year. If I’m going to do it, might as well show some patience.

      I read that about the freezer thing, but I also read that they then take up a lot of excess freezer moisture which is then dumped into the gin, watering it down.

      Try it. Let’s compare. (Of course, Pendrick’s will be far superior to both.)

  2. Made Sloe gin last year, still have quite a bit left. I was thinking of adding more sloes and sugar to it this year to make some sort of super sloe gin.

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