Unlike last year, the sloes have had a bumper crop. Apparently it is a function of the cold winter we had last year.
Sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn, in case any one was wondering.
The location of a good sloe bush is generally kept quiet. I have met people carrying bags of sloes who pretend they are just going out for a walk and are not in fact carrying anything. Sloe gatherers are even worse than mushroom pickers.
Sloes make a good gin -- giving it a slight almond flavour and a wonderful pink colour. Sloes taste terrible to eat raw and I do not know who first decided that they worked in gin.
Basically gin is 8 oz (250 g) sloes -- picked over, washed and pricked with a silver fork to 1 pint (10z/500 ml) gin. Add 2-3 teaspoons of sugar to taste. Then store in a sealed jar in a darkened place. You are supposed to shake the bottle every day but really it does work if you leave it alone.
You can drink the sloe gin around Christmas time but it tastes better if left. I have a friend who gives sloe gin as a work in progress.
Damson gin or plum gin is made on same principle. You could use brandy or whiskey. Buy the cheap own store varieties...
What the fruit does is to soften the taste of the alcohol...
Lemon whiskey is also easy to make and is a secret ingredient in a good bakewell tart. The peel of 2 lemons is infused in a 3/4 pt (8oz/400ml) whiskey or brandy for 48 hours, strain and then a cooled syrup of 1/4 cup sugar to 4oz water (boiled for a few minutes to make the syrup) It is ready to use and is good for colds or alternatively as a flavouring for custards.
I spent yesterday evening making a litre or so sloe gin. I need to make some lemon whiskey.