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black cat

Welcome to Doodlecat, where we enjoy the pleasures of life (with a slight bias towards the outdoors). This page is regularly updated with news and views plus information about any additions or changes to the various parts of the site. It acts as Doodlecat’s Blog too, so the odd rant considered opinion may pop up from time to time.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007


It’s a wet afternoon here in (usually) sunny Suffolk, and the rain is lashing against the window – but do I care? No.

Just got back from a cracking little walk around Lavenham with Miss Whiplash, and we both noticed that after hanging around in the wings, autumn has suddenly taken centre stage – temperature 10 degrees, sharp squally showers, the odd glimpse of sun and rainbows, acorns and cob nuts crunching underfoot. The fields are all ploughed now, some harrowed, and we saw one chap out drilling winter wheat. Yes, summer is well and truly over, and we’re plunging towards the darkest, gloomiest months of the year. Well, maybe not so gloomy…

There’s something else – the hedgerows are absolutely laden with great things, so we’ve come back with our sacks laden with hedgerow goodies. A bag of blackberries (for sorbets and blackberry & apple pies) and crab apples (for herb jellies). Ripe sloes are hanging off the blackthorns, so it’s also time to get the sloe gin under way for next year.

Here’s our recipe for sloe gin. If you don’t like gin, don’t worry, the process completely transforms it. Sloes will be around for the next month, and some people reckon that they’re best after the first frost. (if you think the same, just pop them in the freezer overnight. We never bother, and the gin comes out just fine). The main thing is to make sure that you have nice plump sloes that give when gently squeezed.

Fresh Sloes 450g
White sugar 112g
Gin 75cl

If you have a litre of gin then use proportions as below:

1 litre gin
150 grams sugar
600 grams sloes

Stalk, wash and dry the fruit with an old clean tea-towel (old because the fruit stains everything) or kitchen roll

Prick the fruit all over with a thick needle (this is the tedious bit – put on some good music) and put the pricked fruit in a large Kilner jar or similar wide necked container. However, a friend assures me that if you have deep frozen the sloes for a day or two the skins will have split or been stretched enough for you to skip this bit. I've tried it, but I reckon pricking the fruit produces a slightly better result.

Put the sugar in the jar and pour on the gin – stir to dissolve and distribute the sugar, fit the lid and store in a dark cupboard for three months, giving the jar a gentle shake every day for the first week (to make sure all the sugar is dissolved) then every week.

Gradually the gin will turn deep red.

Strain off into small, clean bottles and seal well. Store in the dark (preserves the colour) for a few more months while the sloe gin matures.

Believe me, it’s worth the wait!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The longer you leave the sloes on the branch before picking the better the flavour - they are bitter little things and need all the ripening they can get. End of October is best. I use more sugar than you - about half a pound, and add a cinnamon stick. Yummy.

September 26, 2007 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Lou and Phyllis LaBorwit said...

Thanks Phil for giving us the opportunity to keep in touch with all you guys. You all should know that we are now recovered from our "disastrous" '07 Challenge. To make sure that all our parts are truly working we are about to embark on the total WHW and end up at the reunion in Fort Bill. Very mundane walk I know but just right to get the old Americans going again. And, as things stand now we plan to be on hand again in May.
Lou and Phyllis

September 26, 2007 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger Humphrey Weightman said...

Oh yes! We used to do much the same in Co Wicklow, only using wild cherries. Similar recipe, but with vodka. Best of all, you get to eat the cherries later...

September 26, 2007 at 10:23 PM  

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