Forest Foraging



Autumn - time to pick sloes.  Two months 'til Christmas… the right time for sloe gin to mature

First up, find your sloes. Blackthorn trees tangle themselves up with brambles and hawthorn but are easily recognisable once they're in fruit - round, matt purply black and plump berries.  They're so tart raw that they'll turn your mouth to rubber, (a sadistic pleasure to entertain unsuspecting companions) but if you can pop them between your finger and thumb, they’re ripe and ready. Some say wait until the first frost but it's just as effective to pop them in the freezer - (to split the skins / release their stubborn sweetness)

Pick enough (and a bit more) - then pass word on if there's lots to be had.  Think Christmas presents and don't forget your own rations.  Remember, the longer you leave gin to steep the better, although, personally, there's insufficient discipline in our household to think 'rainy day'. 

  • Clean your bottles/jars of choice (Homer stocks bottle brushes, Weck jars and stoppered bottles/glass flasks!) 
  • Half fill with frozen sloes and top up with gin
  • Add two big tablespoonfuls of caster sugar (more if you want a thick syruppy liquer) and shake for a minute - keeping your finger securely on the stopper!
  • Give the container a light shake every other day for two months and place out of sunlight
  • Be patient and resist temptation
  • When ready, strain through muslin into attractive bottles
  • Tie around your labels and titivate for gifting to friends and family

Weck jars and bottles (various sizes) available at Homer from £3.50
Gift tags and string also available at Homer. 


Other tipples ~


Blackberry & Vanilla Vodka 

  • 500g blackberries
  • 500ml vodka
  • 3 vanilla pods, split in half lengthways to expose the seeds
  • 100g caster sugar

Simply combined everything in an airtight container and leave it alone for two months.



Mulled Pear & Ginger

  • 2 litres cloudy apple juice
  • 2 thumb sized ginger pieces , sliced
  • 2 ripe pears , sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks , plus extra to serve
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 4 limes , juice of
  • 2 limes , zest of
  • 500 ml Bacardi 

Add apple juice to big pan follow with the rest of the ingerdients, bring to boil and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Pour into mug and enjoy!