Sloe off the mark
This year looks to be a bumper year for hedgerow fruits and now is the perfect time to start foraging and harvesting the berries, which have been ripening during the summer months.
One often overlooked fruit is the sloe, but be warned, as lovely as they look, sloes are too bitter and sour to eat raw. However, they have an intense plum taste when preserved or used to make sloe gin.
Some people say there is no better use for the fruits than in sloe gin and it is traditionally drunk as a warming drink during the cold winter months.
There is much debate about the best time to pick sloes but a good rule to follow is that as long as you can squeeze the berries easily between your finger and thumb then they will be okay.
Making sloe gin is a slow process but it isn’t particularly difficult as there’s no cooking required. A batch made in October can be drunk at Christmas, however the longer you can leave the brew to mature the better it will be and you will be rewarded for your patience.