For day 93 of 365 Days Wild I headed out along the local lanes in search of some sloes for foraging.
When I mentioned spotting sloes in the hedgerow last month several people, including my sister, responded with ‘Mmm, sloe gin’. I’ve never been a particular fan of gin, myself – though I have to admit that I’ve never tried sloe gin – but I thought I’d make a batch for Christmas for the rest of the family, most of whom do.
I’ve spotted a couple of blackthorn patches along the course of my usual walk recently, but they didn’t really hold enough sloes – not if I wanted to leave plenty for the wildlife to also enjoy. A village couple who I encountered when I was out and about informed me of a patch on another lane, just outside the village, so that was where I headed.
What I found wasn’t just a small patch of sloes, but a long stretch of well established blackthorn hedge. There were more than enough for me to collect plenty for sloe gin making and to still leave lots for the wildlife. And this was in spite of someone else having obviously been through before me! Luckily for the wildlife, a lot of the hedge is well out of the reach of foragers.
Once I arrived home the sloes were washed and dried and have now been popped into the freezer overnight / for a day or two. According to the pages (here and here) that I’ve found on sloe gin making, freezing them causes the skins of the sloes to split, allowing the juice to escape into the gin, whilst also sweetening the fruit. The other method is to individually prick the skin of each sloe… Freezing them definitely sounds easier!
Once the skins have ruptured, I’ll divide the sloes between two jars and then pour over the gin, but that is a task for another day.