Seasonal produce - sloe gin

The hedgerows are brimming with sloes, so remember to take a pot with you next time you go on a nice autumn walk and gather enough to make some sloe gin for a fruity warming winter drink.  Traditionally this should be after the first frosts.

Remove stems from the fruits and prick with a fork or cocktail stick to break the skins – freezing them overnight will also break the skins.  Place 500g ripe sloes in a large glass jar and pour over at least 1 litre of gin, depending on how strong you want it, and about 250g caster sugar.  If you prefer a more tart-tasting drink, add less sugar.

Close the jar tightly and shake and store in a cupboard or cool dark place, ideally shaking the jar every few days for a week or so, until the sugar dissolves.  Leave for three months to a year and strain off the alcohol using a muslin-lined funnel or muslin square over a sieve.  Decant into a clean dry bottle, seal, label and date.

A nice decorated bottle also makes a great Christmas present – lovely with a bit of sparkling wine for a sloe royale.  Always good to get ahead!