Sloe cookery

PUBLISHED: 10:16 18 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:59 20 February 2013

Sloe cookery

Sloe cookery

October is the perfect month for picking sloes and making your own sloe gin for a festive tipple or gift

Sloe down to celebrate

October is the perfect month for picking sloes and making your own sloe gin for a festive tipple or gift

Sloe gin can be made at home and all you need is sloes, gin and sugar. Sloes are the berries from the blackthorn bush and are at their peak picking condition from mid-October. It is traditional to pick sloes after the first frost when it is said that they should be perfectly ripe. Check woodlands and hedgerows for small, plum-like fruits but make sure you dont strip a hedge bare of its fruits. You can also grow blackthorn bushes in your garden to get your own sloes or keep an eye out for them at farmers markets and farm shops.

The sloes themselves are too sour to eat as a fruit but are fantastic to use in jams and jellies as well as sloe gin. To get the maximum out of sloes you can first use them in the gin and then when the liqueur is poured off use the gin infused sloes to make a jam, as the base for a chutney or to fill chocolates.

The traditional way to make sloe gin is to infuse gin with the berries. They need to be ripe as each sloe needs to be pricked several times so the juice can seep out of the skin and into the alcohol. Sugar is also required to help extract the juices from the fruit.Depending on your taste preferences, other flavourings can be added such as almond essence, cloves and cinnamon.

Choose a wide-necked jar with a seal and fill half way with the pricked sloes a rough guide is for each one imperial pint (570 ml) of sloes, four ounces (110 g) of sugar is used, then the jar is filled with gin. This gives an alcohol content of between 15 and 30 percent by volume. Seal the jar and turn several times to mix, then store in a cool, dark place.

When the liqueur is ready the liqueur can be filtered, but it is best decanted back into clean containers and left to stand for another week.

More sugar can be added if you would like a sweeter taste.

You can find sloe gin tips and recipes courtesy of Monkhide Country Wines at shropshire.greatbritshlife.co.uk


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Producer of the month
Muckleton Meats, Telford

Muckleton Meats at Bank Farm in Muckleton produces rare breed pork. The company is run by David Haighton who rears a small herd of Gloucester Old Spot pigs in outdoor pens where they can roam freely and express their natural behaviour and grow at their own pace. No antibiotics, growth promoters or GM additives are added to their feed. Pork produced this way is full of flavour with a deep colour. David purchased the farm in 1994 and has transformed it into a thriving livestock unit dedicated to the production of high quality, kindly-reared rare breed pork.

Products available from Muckleton Meats include whole and half pig, chops, loin steaks, tenderloin, gammons, hams, belly pork, sausages and bacon. These can be bought from the farm, online or by mail order. www.muckletonmeats.com

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