Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sloe vodka

We have had a ground frost twice this last week. And some patient soul has been out gathering sloes. I found them in the farm shop and, feeling I should have got out and picked them myself I dithered, and then gave in. You are supposed to wait until after the first frost to collect sloes, the fruit of the blackthorn, but sometimes the frost comes late and the birds get them all, so luck is on our side this year.

I had it in mind to make sloe gin, which is what you do, but I don’t really like gin. And then I came across a little presentation in the farm shop from Godminster, who make vintage organic cheddar in Bruton, Somerset, and who have lately started making flavoured vodkas too, and it gave me an idea.

I love the Godminster cheddar, with its rich purple wax coat, and recently I had some of their absolutely stunning horseradish flavoured vodka, which is glorious in a Bloody Mary. They started making the vodkas with bought-in spirit to use up some of the fruits and vegetables that grow on their organic farm, and the range now includes cucumber (a star in Pimms), elderflower, the horseradish, and the more traditional blackcurrant as well as sloe. Next year they are going to do rhubarb and ginger. Taking on the Scandinavians from Somerset!

So this is my sloe vodka.

450g/1lb sloes
225g/8oz caster sugar
1 bottle vodka

Prick the skin of the sloes all over with a clean needle and put in a large sterilised jar.
Pour in the sugar and the vodka, seal tightly and shake well.
Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake every other day for a week. Then shake once a week for two months. The sugar will slowly dissolve and the sloe vodka will turn a beautiful dark red and be ready to drink.

Decant into clean bottles.

Just in time for Christmas I think!


Erin said...

This sounds marvelous, and just in time, as you suggested. I love hearing about people infusing their own liqours. It's so simple, but different every time. I aim to make my own eau de vie (once I have my own place in which to make it!)

June said...

Eau de vie, Erin - I look forward to your directions on how to build a still!

Carolyn said...

I have never tried sloe vodka (or gin) it certainly sounds good, roll on Christmas

Susan in Italy said...

How fascinating, I know almost nothing about sloes. What do they taste like alone? Are they used in anything else other than in flavoring liquor?

June said...

Hi Susan

Sloes surprise you because they are what is called a drupe, having a large stone nestling inside the flesh. This makes them useless for all other practical purposes because the stone gets in the way, and raw they are exceptionally sour. I think you would have to be a bit desperate to eat them voluntarily, but used to flavour gin or vodka they really come into their own, and the colour seeps from the deep purple skins to make a richly coloured, fruity sweet digestif.

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