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How to make sloe gin

PUBLISHED: 10:29 19 October 2016

Sloe season brings the promise of sloe gin (Thinkstock)

Sloe season brings the promise of sloe gin (Thinkstock)

Ian_Redding

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There’s nothing like the prospect of opening a bottle of homemade sloe gin on a chilly night to bring out the forager in all of us. Gin fans will be pleased to hear that sloe season is well and truly here. The hedgerows are packed with berries ripe for picking – something you’ll learn all about on one of the walking tours held at this time of year by the Foragers in St Albans.

Making your own sloe gin is easy

1. Pop freshly-picked and washed berries in the freezer overnight to simulate the first frost, which should make them split. If this doesn’t work, give them a whack with a rolling pin.

2. Fill half a Mason jar with around 500g sloes, pour in a bottle of decent gin (as good as you can afford), and add up to 250g sugar depending on your sweetness preferences.

3. Seal and shake, then store somewhere dark. Give it a shake every few days for around two months. Strain the finished gin into a fresh bottle through a muslin/clean pair of tights, and enjoy neat or topped-up with sparkling wine for a sloe gin fizz.

The Foragers has taken sloe gin several steps further with its Hedgerow Gin, a delicious concoction based on the German tradition of ‘rumtopf’. Owner Richard Osmond explains, ‘During berry season, we just have a big vat of booze on the go and throw in whatever we can find – blackberries, raspberries, sloes, rose hips, elderberries etc. There’s almost too much flavour to capture at this time of year and this is the easiest way we know to preserve the most of the wild.’

Best served ‘in ice cold shots with a platter of rare pigeon breast’, it takes sloe gin to a whole new level. A 500ml bottle is £18 from the-foragers.com or the Verulam Arms in St Albans.

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