Making Sloe Gin

Being a city girl I often have a longing to fully embrace the seasons whilst also feeling slightly removed from them in London.  This year however I was determined to embrace Autumn and the coming festive season by making sloe gin, even though the likelihood of me being able to go out and forage for berries was slim to none. I have no idea where you can find sloes,especially in London, so instead I turned to the trusty internet and ordered myself a couple of pounds of berries online from here. Always a bit of a risk ordering perishables online but they seemed perfectly fine…

Now is the time to make sloe gin for Christmas as you need to leave it for a couple of months before you can enjoy it, the longer you leave it the better it gets. What you don’t drink this year will only taste better next year. This is also the time to pick sloes, just before (or after according to some) the first frost, around the end of September/beginning of October.

Making sloe gin couldn’t be simpler, you need very few ingredients and no skill. Little bottles of homemade sloe gin also make for excellent Christmas presents, which is what I am planning to do if I don’t drink it all first.


Sloe gin


Sloe gin


Sloe gin


Sloe gin

What you’ll need:

– Sloes (a lb. of sloes makes apprx. 1 litre of sloe gin

– Gin (they say not to use cheap gin but use whatever you’re happy with)

– Sugar

– Vanilla essence (optional)

– Glass airtight bottles

What you need to do:

– If you’re worried about maggots in your sloes, put them in a bowl of warm water for about 10/15 mins and you’ll soon see any maggots float to the surface (lovely!).

– Freeze you sloe berries and then defrost them when you are ready to make the sloe gin. This imitates the first frost and bursts the skins of the berries. Alternatively you can prick each berry with a pin but that sounds like too much of a bore to me.

– It’s important to sterilise your glass bottles so you don’t end up with mouldy gin (nobody likes mouldy gin). You can do this by simply putting them in the dishwasher on their own at the highest setting.

– Fill half your bottle with sloes and then add a couple of spoonfuls of sugar. You can always add more later if you find it’s not sweet enough. Then add a couple of drops of vanilla essence if you fancy it.

– Finally fill the bottles up with gin and give them a good shake.

– Store the bottles flat in a dry dark cupboard and turn them each day for the first two weeks. For the remainder of the time you only need to turn the bottles once a week.

– After two months (minimum) you can crack open your sloe gin! Just sieve the liquid into sterilised bottles so that you are left with only the sloe gin and none of the berries and other bits that might be floating about.

Sloe gin

Sloe gin


For those of you who don’t know I’m 8 months pregnant so I found making the sloe gin slightly cathartic, like I was suitably preparing for when I’ll finally be able to drink again. However I did get a few strange looks purchasing a couple of bottles of gin in Waitrose.

Have you ever made sloe gin before? Do you have any tips you could share? Why not give it a go for the first time this Autumn!

Rebecca X


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