I spent half term last week in London with my girls in the house I grew up in. We did loads of fun things visiting friends, museums, parks… When I asked my daughters what they enjoyed the most during their school break they both said it was foraging for sloes in the park opposite my parents house.
You can spend a fortune keeping your kids entertained and travel miles but for mine it’s nearly always free and easy simple pleasures that they get the most kick out of.
It was a first for me I’ve always picked blackberries, an end of summer ritual since I was child that I now do with my daughters. When I came across the Jamie Oliver recipe for sloe gin on the Local Wild Food Challenge Facebook page I thought it would make perfect Christmas gifts.
On a beautiful autumn afternoon we headed over to the woodland at the edge of the park on the hunt for sloes (but not really expecting to find them). It wasn’t long before we stumbled across hedgerows and bushes laden with the plump black berries. After a quick google check that they were sloes we filled a bag proving wild food abounds everywhere even in a London Park!
Here’s how my girls and I made sloe gin following this recipe
- First up, you need to find your sloes. Around this time in the UK the wild blackthorn trees are aching with fruit.
- Start by sticking them in the freezer overnight. This will simulate the first frost and split the skin on your berries, allowing them to release their natural sweetness.
- You’ll need a sterilised, airtight bottle, half fill it with the frozen fruit and top up with gin – a good gin.
- Add two big spoonfuls of caster sugar and shake for a minute.
- Lay the bottle on its side out of direct sunlight and twist it 180 degrees every other day for two months.
They’ll be ready for Christmas. We made 4 bottles, perfect homemade gifts for gin loving grannies! Think this might become an autumn family ritual.