There are few things as satisfying as making something from scratch. Whether it be a moist cream-filled sponge or a crusty steak and ale pie, nothing beats the pleasure of eating something that you have sweated, cried and toiled over.
Perfect for permanently cash-strapped students, sloe gin is easy and cheap to make, a handy way to make cheap and nasty alcohol into something a little more special, even good enough for a Christmas present. Two months may seem like a long time to make, but it will taste even better, and if you start now it will ready for the Christmas season, the perfect drink to warm you on a snowy evening.
What you’ll need (to make 1 litre/1 ¾ pints) –
- 450g/1lb sloes – if you don’t know what sloes look like, take a look at the picture on this article. Sloe trees can be found everywhere in the countryside, the blue/grey skin of the berries their most distinguishing feature. The blacker the sloe berry, the more ripe it is. Take a walk in any part of the Yorkshire countryside and you’ll be bound to find some in a hedgerow. TIP – don’t eat them raw, they will be the most disgusting thing you have ever eaten.
- 225g/8oz caster sugar – this may seem like a lot of sugar but it is essential in order to ensure that the sloe juices are fully extracted.
- 1 litre/1¾ pint gin – if you’re a gin connoisseur then feel free to choose whatever gin you choose. But as the actual taste of the gin is going to be disguised by the sloes anyway, you may as well get Morrison’s Value/Sainsbury’s Value/Tesco’s Value gin and save the pennies.
- A wide-necked glass jar with a secure lid
- A clean needle
- A sieve (for when you decant it)
1. Prick the skin of the sloes all over with the needle and decant into the jar.
2. Add the sugar and the gin, seal tightly and shake well. If you’re feeling adventurous you can add almond essence, cinnamon sticks and cloves, but I prefer the classic version.
3. Keep in a cool, dark place and give it a good shake every other day for a week, then every week for two months.
4. Sieve the sloe gin so that you’re left with a beautiful dark red/purple liquid. There will be some sediment at the bottom but that’s inevitable.
5. Bottle, label and enjoy! Best drunk as a shot or with tonic. Preferably in front of a roaring fire (or a radiator) with friends.
You can pretty much make any type of flavoured alcohol in this way. Why not try plum vodka, blackberry brandy or raspberry gin?
Originally published on The Yorker 26th September 2010