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!