how to make sloe gin

It’s autumn, and I’m thinking about sloe gin and sparkly lights and candles and crochet blankets. For those of you wanting to know how to make sloe gin, here’s a recipe.

Having left it until later this year, the sloes are softer, darker, and they’ve lost their bloom. I’ve always picked them in September, and plonked them in the freezer overnight, because the traditional sloe gin recipe states that you shouldn’t pick them until after the first frost. However, I think the first frost must’ve been earlier than it is nowadays, because the sloes have undergone a transformation and their bitter, dusty taste has been replaced with that of a very tart plum. It’ll be interesting to see how that affects the sloe gin.

The first thing you need to make sloe gin is – you guessed it – sloes. They grow on the blackthorn bush, and look like tiny little plums, blue-black with a slight whitish bloom. The blackthorn has quite sharp thorns, so be prepared when you’re picking to come home a bit sore. You might also come across a bush with bigger, slightly less tart fruit – these are bullaces. These won’t give quite the same almondy taste to the gin, but they’ll work as a substitute.

Back in August I was featured in Woman & Home magazine talking about picking sloes, and how the annual ritual of making sloe gin marked the beginning of autumn, my favourite season. Yesterday afternoon we got soaking wet, had a lovely time, came home and curled
up in the sitting room with hot chocolate and watched a film.

Sloe Gin Recipe:

Go and have a look in the hedgerows and you’re sure to find some sloes. Don’t forget a bag. If you’re like me, you’ll forget, and have to take them home in a dog poo bag.
This will earn you strange looks from passing walkers.

how to make sloe gin

All you need for home made sloe gin is a jar, a bottle of gin, a pound (450g) of sloes and 100g of sugar.
Sterilise the jar by washing it in hot soapy water and then rinsing with lots of boiling water.
Plonk the washed sloes in the jar, and add the sugar and gin.
Put it in a dark place, and give it a swirl once a week from now ’til Christmas
Strain it into a bottle, and drink.
It’s that simple.
This year I’ve experimented by using vanilla sugar (caster sugar I keep in a jar with vanilla pods) and I’ve added a vanilla pod to the sloe gin mixture, too.
This may be delicious.
It may be disgusting.
Reports to follow in December.

how to make sloe gin

This is my entry to lovely English Mum’s Great Big Autumn Bakeoff.
It’s not baking, but I’m hoping that a recipe for sloe gin means she’ll let me off!


The final result: this is the 2010 vintage, sloe gin made with vanilla. Two years on its absolutely delicious: warm and mellow and just what you need on a winter evening. Happy sloe-picking!

sloe gin recipe

Tales from the Village is famous! Look, here I am featured in this month’s Woman & Home magazine sharing my sloe gin recipe. Thanks to Liz for featuring me.

Living in a village there are always lots of recipes shared and passed round, and this recipe for blackberry vodka comes from my lovely neighbour, Susan.

Blackberry Vodka

Pick (or buy, if you don’t like being prickled, but that’s half the fun) 450g of blackberries. Or brambles, as we call them back home in Scotland.
Combine them in a big Kilner jar with a bottle of vodka and 200g sugar and stir once a week for a month.
Strain with a muslin cloth, pour into pretty bottles and give away as Christmas presents (or drink it all – apparently it’s very moreish).

And one more thing for Danielle from Housework Blues, who asked if you could use plums instead of sloes in the sloe gin recipe featured in W&H. I asked one of the ladies from the The WI (Women’s Institute for those of you not in the know) and yes, you can substitute plums, pricked all over, for sloes. Yum.

iced tea with lemon and mint


It’s baking hot. Lunch is a combination of the very English (tiny little strawberries, the first of the season, with cream) and the American: iced tea.

It’s really easy and a million times nicer than the horrible stuff you get in cans.

Make a strong pot of tea, and leave to steep for ten minutes until your teeth are squeaking at the prospect of all that tannin.
Meanwhile, take half a mug of caster sugar, and half a mug of water and heat together, with the zest of a lemon and a handful of mint leaves, until it boils and becomes syrupy.

Strain the syrup and the tea into a jug, and leave to cool. Then add loads of ice and garnish with lemon slices or mint leaves, or both. Yum.

hot toddy

I have a cough and a cold and I’ve lost my voice. So there’s only one thing for it: hot whisky.

One huge, overflowing spoonful of honey, a squeeze of lemon juice, a big slurp of whisky (doesn’t have to be finest malt; I use blended stuff, known as cooking whisky round here) and top it up with almost boiling water.

Drink out of a suitable mug. This one is very apposite.