sloe gin

It’s time to get cracking and make your sloe gin. Two months is the minimum amount of time it needs to be the perfect festive tipple and as it’s now two months until Christmas…

First up, you need to find your sloes. This year in the UK it has been a bumper harvest for these autumnal berries and the trees are aching with fruit. If you can pop the berries easily between your finger and thumb, they’re ripe.

Pick enough to half-fill the bottle of your choice, but before you put them inside, stick them in the freezer overnight. This will simulate the first frost and split the skin on your berries, allowing them to release their natural sweetness.

After sterilising your airtight bottle, half fill it with the frozen fruit and top up with gin – a good gin please, as cheap ones aren’t very nice and will often ruin all of your hard work. Add a couple of spoonfuls of caster sugar and shake for a minute. Lay on its side out of direct sunlight and twist it 180 degrees every other day for two months. Then taste it; if you think you need it sweeter then make a simple sugar syrup. Do this by dissolving equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat and allow to cool; add to your liking.

Serve on a crisp winter’s day lunchtime as an aperitif.

Jim Tanfield

About the author

I'm Jamie's Website Editor and as well as overseeing my brilliantly creative team I am always looking at ways to eat more great food because I'm always hungry and a little bit greedy. Desert island ingredient: Chillies Favourite dish: Anything Mexican...or French...Japanese...don't make me choose! Favourite Non-Jamie Restaurant: Cinnamon Club

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  • Natalie Moore

    I made mine on Monday after foraging for Sloes on Saturday… They spent the first 36 hours in the freezer before being added to the gin. I’ve read it’s best to add the sugar at the end so the natural sugars in the fruit can fully release. :D I’m also making Blackberry Vodka too!

    • Mike Fletcher

      You could also try Blackberries steeped in a blended whiskey.very drinkable but not as good as a half decent slow gin

    • Sue Mitchell

      We have always added sugar at start as there is very little sugar in fruit, try sucking one!!! Really don’t see need to freeze, we just Nick with a veg knife! Heard all sorts of rubbish reasons about metals etc from an American who read up on internet but 50 yrs personal experience and many years prior with late Father & his Sussex village family I think our way is proven!

  • Neil Annett

    I sometimes like to eat them raw when I’m feeling masochistic. It’s like having your head sucked inside-out.

    • jamieoliverdotcom

      Comment of the week.

  • Hollogram

    There is a good blog article here showing all the steps needed to make sloe gin and a list of equipment etc:

  • Martin King

    Just made my first batch… not sure if I can wait two months though (Xmas is coming). Would it be okay after a month?

    • Mike Fletcher

      Hi Martin
      Yes it will be okay after a month but the extra 4 weeks it would be delicious.

    • Sue Mitchell

      You need to wait until sugar is fully dissolved and gin is rich deep ruby red, then taste, if you need to add more sugar then just pour onto jar no need for syrup the alcohol dissolves it. Look above for recipe but would recommend 10oz approx per bot of gin. It does depend on the juiciness of berries but just follow your own taste buds!

  • Karen Smith

    after a couple of days, I opened the jar and it already smells amazing! however I noticed some things floating on the top, I believe these are maggots that were in the sloes :-( I removed them and put them in the bin, will the gin still be OK? I guess the maggots died happy!!!

    • Michelle Tiddy

      For the first time ever I’ve just noticed some maggots in the sloe gin I made today!!! There are only a couple and I will strain them off…… degrees….I’m sure it is just like the worm in tequila!!!

  • Devonshirelass

    It is true that you can keep sloe gin for a year and have a fantastic brew for Xmas 2014?

    • Jeff Dray

      I made three bottles of Sloe gin in August 2008, put them at the back of the kitchen cupboard and didn’t find it until Christmas 2012. It was possibly the tastiest drink I have ever had. Smooth as silk, the tang of the fruit was there but not a hint of roughness and this was using Lidl’s cheapest gin. I’ve just done two more for Christmas 2014. The longer the better.

      • Sue Mitchell

        It only kept well because bottles were unopened & in the dark. Best to drink year it’s made as there is nothing chemically happening to improve it. Agree using cheap gin though as it’s just the base alcohol you need not the refined flavourings in expensive gins. I am sure if a ‘cheap’ bottle & expensive bottle were made by same method etc then I’d defy anyone to tell the difference.

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  • Sue Mitchell

    Been making sloe gin for 50 plus years & would disagree with loads in this recipe! Sloes are so bitter they are in edible so the quantities are 1 bot gin ( and we find cheap gin equally as good as the flavour comes from berries) 1lb sloes 1lb of sugar. We though now only yes approx 10oz of sugar as the old recipe called for rock candy which is difficult to find. We put our in a Demi John and just slice through skin on each berry with a veg knife. Keep in dark cupboard & shake jar every 3/4 days. It’s ready to strain through muslin into bottles when sugar has all dissolved but taste first & if still too sharp add 1oz or two more until you like the sweetness. Bottle in dark glass & keep in dark cupboard. Drink within the year as the alcohol will take over the fruit and it will change to a sludgy red/brown rather than rich ruby red! A small tot added to a G & T is delicious! Some recipes add a few almonds but that’s purely to taste!

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