It seems early to be picking sloes but plenty of them are already wrinkling up like prunes or the birds have eaten away the flesh and left the stones. So off we went this week to pick a few basketfuls so we can make a little stash of sloe gin for winter next year – nothing like a little forward planning. Normally people just stand beside the blackthorn hedge and pick as high as they can reach. But not if you’re married to a farmer. No, Bill decided that as the juiciest and biggest sloes are always just out of reach and as he also needed some overhanging branches cutting down, the only way to do it was with the telehandler. So, the safety cage was attached and Beth was lifted up to saw off the high branches. It was much easier to pick the sloes off a branch sitting on a box in the field and I didn’t get my fingers scratched or pricked by the thorns. Sometimes the farmer’s way is the best way.
Unfortunately my forward planning rather fell to pieces when we arrived home with our haul and discovered there was no gin left in the house. Well, only a bottle of Adnams Gin and that’s my Sunday special. No matter, the sloes have gone into the freezer for a couple of days until I restock the gin supplies.
At the beginning of September I put a selection of wild fruits into a bottle of gin and now the blackberries have lost their colour, I’ve strained the red liqueur into a clean bottle. I put the gin soaked fruit into a saucepan, just covered it with water and boiled it up with some jam sugar to make an almost full solitary (but tasty) jar of jelly. The Hedgerow Liqueur already tastes pretty good and with luck will mature into something even better over the next few weeks, so I’ve started another bottle with 100g blackberries and 150g of mixed hips, haws, sloes and bullaces, 85g soft brown sugar, a cinnamon stick and two cloves all mixed with a bottle of gin.
Next to deal with – quince and walnuts.