I think if your sloes are sweet enough to eat, they're not sloes, they may be bullaces. Six years of trying and sloes, even when they are so ripe they start to rot, are never sweet enough to eat. Sorry, they still work, and just need less sugar. MHOThese sloes are so sweet you can eat them off the tree (just!);
Good to flag this up as it's an interesting ID pointer. The ones I got were definitely Prunus spinosa, not P. domestica which is very similar but doesn't have thorns. Maybe it's my palate that can handle the bitterness later in the season. It's my hands that can't handle the thorns which can make my work interesting sometimesI think if your sloes are sweet enough to eat, they're not sloes, they may be bullaces. Six years of trying and sloes, even when they are so ripe they start to rot, are never sweet enough to eat. Sorry, they still work, and just need less sugar. MHO
Now that sounds like a nice recipeMy turn to add my ten cents!
I foraged for my sloes today. I have a few top tips:
Don’t go out on a cold day with wet hair (today was warm so that was ok);
Take the dog and walk far till dog tired (saves her bothering me while I’m in the kitchen);
If you leave your forage for as late in the season as possible, the sloes improve and the nettles around the trees die back. These sloes are so sweet you can eat them off the tree (just!);
Wear long trousers for the nettles that are still hanging in there;
Use a berry comb like one on RM’s website (saves a proper scratching and is dead quick);
Take a bag to carry the dog home in.
"EDIT" Must mention that taking a set of cheap, pocket fishing scales out with you is a good idea to weigh your fruit. You don't under collect or take more than your fair share depriving the wildlife or the tree's self-seeding chances.
This year I’ve left it late to see if I get any improvement in the berries’ sugar (fructose?) content. The sloes really have shrunk down and some even have spilt a little. I’m not worried: that’s what wine farmers leave their grapes to do for dessert wines and sauternes. I’ve used mainly soft brown sugar as I’m not a fan of the refined stuff. And finally as an experiment I’ve used just over 2l of cheap gin to which I have added almonds, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries and juniper berries. I’m keen to try this spicier mix as the plan is to leave it for next year’s Yuletide feasting and drinking.
Here’s my “Thumb-suck” recipe:
About 2kg of sloes
3 x 70cl bottles of cheap gin
600g of soft brown sugar
200g white sugar
2 cinnamon sticks (snapped in half)
4 allspice berries
8 juniper berries
I’ve frozen the berries to split them, dissolved the sugar in the gin and added the spices and left that over-night while the sloes split. Then the whole lot goes in together and is left in a dark cupboard next to the dog’s food so I remember to “shoogle” it all up (cheers Toddy). The whole lot fits in a demi john.
Cross fingers for 2011.....hc
Hi Jim. I'm a real fan of the scandinavian berry picker that you can get on RM's site. There are loads of other sites too though. I use mine for haws and sloes and even with soft, very ripe fruit they don't get mashed. I still hand pick blackberries as bramble seems to stagger the ripenening of the fruit. The combs on the berry picker are an exagerated, elongated "U" shape so there aren't any points to puncture the fruit. In Scandanavia they use them for the softer, higher altitude, cold weather fruit like cloud berries and my assumption is that if they pick the fruit without damage, that is why they are so popular.Great thread.
I all for keeping the sloe gin simple - just sloes, sugar and gin.
Somebody mentioned using a berry picker like the one found on the RM website. I was thinking of getting one, are these any good? If you use them to pick softer berries do they just squash the berries? Don't they just collect as much other stuff (twigs & leaves etc) as they do fruit?...
Elderberry tinctureis supposed to have antiviral properties JTB. Basically take a teaspoon 4 times a day and it reduces the impact / duration of colds & flu (at least so says the theory). Don't worry too much - the icky face was elderberries in vodka with no sweetness. I added honey because I don't use sugar much in herbal tinctures. For recreational use, it should be quite palatable with sugar added...err....I hopeRed whats a medical tincture when its at home? I used your advice to make elderbery vodka and wonder what i have made lol I have a 3 litre jar in the cupboard just ready for emm whatever a medical tincture does lol