Magda Knight is the founding editor of feminist alternative women’s lifestyle magazine Mookychick.co.uk. Here, she tells Stylist.co.uk how exactly to make your own sloe gin and enjoy the delights of creating and drinking this tipple at home.
September is the perfect month to buy fresh sloe berries online and make a truly delicious drink that will last you for the year ahead. Exploring all the fabulous brands of sloe gin on the market is a gin-tasting adventure. However, once you’ve tried home-made sloe gin you’ll know that nothing tastes quite like it. Making your own is easy!
Sloe gin is a sipping drink with a creeping delicious warmth to it, perfect for sharing with friends or storing in a hip flask for long winter walks. September is the month to gather your fresh sloe berries – which is easier than it sounds, thanks to eBay – so now is the ideal time to take things sloe…
Beginning your prep
All you need is fresh sloe berries, store-bought gin of your choice, sugar, and a large mason jar (or similar) for storage. There are plenty of excellent sloe gin recipes online, like this one from the BBC.
What’s really required is patience, and lots of it. That’s because it will take around three months for the berries to react nicely with the sugar. Sadly, there’s no point in taking little test sips every week or so to see how your sloe gin is coming along. It’s all going to taste very rough and ready until time works its magic. Keep your will as strong as the gin you used as the base for your recipe!
Acquiring fresh sloe berries used to be the hardest part in making your own sloe gin. That’s no longer the case, for eBay has made things easy for you and every September you’ll find people selling fresh sloe berries online. Remember, these fresh berries are seasonal, so now is very much the time to buy.
Once your berries arrive, you’re ready to make your sloe gin, and absolutely no cooking is involved. You will, however, need to prick each berry with a fork so its juices can mingle with the sugar. No word of a lie, this laborious process is incredibly dull. You can pass the slowest half hour of your life by anticipating how good the finished results will taste, or inject some fun into things by inviting helping hands round for a sloe-pricking session.
Some folk like to speed things up by freezing all the sloe berries to split their skin, but this cheat method has variable success. Freezing or pricking? The choice is yours. What matters is the results.
The waiting game
Once the ingredients are in your mason jar, all you need to do for the next few months is shake the contents of your jar every week and stare at them longingly. The beauty of sloe gin is that the longer you leave it, the better it tastes, with a rich layered flavour that has top notes, heart notes and base notes, much like your favourite perfume.
Make your sloe gin now, and it’ll be ready in time for Christmas and gifts galore. Make lots of it, and it’ll taste better with each month until September comes round once more and you can gather fresh berries for a new batch off eBay.
Be warned: once you’ve tried home-made sloe gin, you’ll never look back!
Magda also writes speculative fiction for young adults and grownups. A few of her favourite things include board games, coffee, scouring second hand shops for oddities and treasures, reading, and gin. Not necessarily in that order. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images: Magda Knight / Karly Gomez