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Harvesting Sloes


Demonic69
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Hi all

I was reading online about when to grab the sloes ready for making sloe gin. One article said when you can squash them between 2 fingers. Surely that depends on strength? I can squash mine now, but they're not exactly soft.

What do you guys go on?

Thanks

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Pick them now, wash them and then freeze them - They will be fine.

 

Old tip, but still worthwhile - Make your sloe gin in an empty and clean 2 litre drinks bottle - Tighten the lid and throw it in your car boot - Saves all that daily shaking nonsense

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Picking them after the first frost is an old wives tale, so long as they squash reasonably easy have good colour and have plenty of juice in them there ready to pick.

don't bother with the freezer method it tends to oxidise them and makes them brown and mushy after they are thawed, to get the most juice and flavour use a fork and pick three or four times around the berry.

Edited by old'un
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1 hour ago, old'un said:

Picking them after the first frost is an old wives tale, so long as they squash reasonably easy have good colour and have plenty of juice in them there ready to pick.

don't bother with the freezer method it tends to oxidise them and makes them brown and mushy after they are thawed, to get the most juice and flavour use a fork and pick three or four times around the berry.

Thanks for all the replies

Then just stick them straight in with the sugar and gin?

 

Cheers

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1 hour ago, Demonic69 said:

Thanks for all the replies

Then just stick them straight in with the sugar and gin?

 

Cheers

Nooo! It requires lots of careful tasting to get it just right 😁

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Add sugar at end to taste not  required for the brew stage 

me I freeze the sloes then blitz quickly in food processor with some almonds!

still got a few litres  of last years due to not getting out much last year !

I like a nip of sloe gin strait from the hip flask reminds me must stock up on fisherman’s friends !

atb Agriv8

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4 hours ago, Demonic69 said:

Thanks for all the replies

Then just stick them straight in with the sugar and gin?

 

Cheers

yep, thats after you have given them a good wash.

 

depending on how good the berries are I usually make around 3 gallon each year, I use about 1lb of berries to 1ltr of gin/vodka, I also add sugar at the start, about 4oz of sugar per ltr of gin/vodka, after about 4 months I remove the berries and adjust the sweetness.

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13 hours ago, old'un said:

yep, thats after you have given them a good wash.

 

depending on how good the berries are I usually make around 3 gallon each year, I use about 1lb of berries to 1ltr of gin/vodka, I also add sugar at the start, about 4oz of sugar per ltr of gin/vodka, after about 4 months I remove the berries and adjust the sweetness.

But don't bin them.

Instead, de-stone them, lay them on a flat tray of some sort and then cover them in a good quality melted dark chocolate.  Into the fridge to harden off. Usually all gone within 2-3 days. "MMmmmmmm!"

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56 minutes ago, Robden said:

But don't bin them.

Instead, de-stone them, lay them on a flat tray of some sort and then cover them in a good quality melted dark chocolate.  Into the fridge to harden off. Usually all gone within 2-3 days. "MMmmmmmm!"

Ive done this with all my Gin/vodka flavourings. Including Cherry, forest fruits, ginger, pineapple. Presently I have Rosehip and a Forest fruits festering away in the  Kilners. The forest fruits was a bag I found in the back of the freezer. Aldi forest fruits, I've done this one before and it was very palatable 

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20 hours ago, Fatcatsplat said:

 

Old tip, but still worthwhile - Make your sloe gin in an empty and clean 2 litre drinks bottle - Tighten the lid and throw it in your car boot - Saves all that daily shaking nonsense

Genius!

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21 hours ago, old'un said:

Picking them after the first frost is an old wives tale, so long as they squash reasonably easy have good colour and have plenty of juice in them there ready to pick.

don't bother with the freezer method it tends to oxidise them and makes them brown and mushy after they are thawed, to get the most juice and flavour use a fork and pick three or four times around the berry.

I agree that `after the first frost` is an old wives tale. It`s more important to pick them before someone else does :whistling:

OB

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Sloes have a natural bloom of yeast when ripe. This sends the berries a nice, matt blue.
This bloom (yeast) will react with sugar to form alcohol. In doing so it kills all other germs and bacteria effecitvly producing a sterile, alcoholic, fruity, red syrup.
The ratio of Sloes to Sugar is a matter of taste but 1:1 works well. Ikg Sloes to 1Kg sugar.

If you wash the sloes you will remove the natural yeast and so the reaction will not take place.
If you add alcohol (ie Gin) you will kill the yeast and the reaction won't happen.

It takes a few weeks for the sugar and the fruit to turn into the alcoholic fruity red syrup (called the 'mash'). You can shake the jar if you wish as this mixes the sugars and yeasts together but a gentle stirring/shake a day is all that is needed. When adding the sugar to the sloes you do not need to pr*ck them with a pin or squash them or damage them in any way, simply remove leaves, twigs and stalks, put them in a glass jar or demi-john, pour the sugar on top and cover with clingfilm. Once the sloes and sugars have turned into a deep red liquid small bubbles appear, these are oxides given off in the process of alcohol production. A shuggle a day won't hurt but the best is to maintain an equal temperature of around 25C and leave it to ferment for about 6 to 8 weeks (longer if cooler).

I leave mine for 3 or 4 months, then I add cheap/supermarket/value Gin @ I litre for 1Kg of fruit. I give it a good shake and leave it for at least 6 months, often a lot longer.
At the end of this infussion period I syphon the clear liquid off into the empty gin bottles and its ready to drink.
Some of my friends like to taste the Gin so a little more is added to thin the mixture.
If the mix is too sweet, the fermentation didn't happen or wasn't allowed to finish (ie the Gin was added to soon).

The flavours are enhanced and get more complex if the mixture is left longer. A nutty/woody taste develops inside the blackcurrant and cherry flavours of the sloes if the 'mash' is left for a couple of years. If you like to taste the Gin, add some more when drinking (ie use your sloe-gin as a cordial).

Don't wash your sloes
Dont add Gin until the sloes have fermented and produced an alcoholic mash
Be patient, Sloe Gin is not a next week drink it's a 'it'll be ready next year'
The Gin flavours are swamped by the sloes so cheap Gin works well, as does cheap Vodka

 

Edited by miki
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20 minutes ago, miki said:

Don't wash your sloes
Don't add Gin until the sloes have fermented and produced an alcoholic mash
Be patient, Sloe Gin is not a next week drink it's a 'it'll be ready next year'
The Gin flavours are swamped by the sloes so cheap Gin works well, as does cheap Vodka

Very simple, been done this way for years!

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3 hours ago, miki said:

Sloes have a natural bloom of yeast when ripe. This sends the berries a nice, matt blue.
This bloom (yeast) will react with sugar to form alcohol. In doing so it kills all other germs and bacteria effecitvly producing a sterile, alcoholic, fruity, red syrup.
The ratio of Sloes to Sugar is a matter of taste but 1:1 works well. Ikg Sloes to 1Kg sugar.

If you wash the sloes you will remove the natural yeast and so the reaction will not take place.
If you add alcohol (ie Gin) you will kill the yeast and the reaction won't happen.

It takes a few weeks for the sugar and the fruit to turn into the alcoholic fruity red syrup (called the 'mash'). You can shake the jar if you wish as this mixes the sugars and yeasts together but a gentle stirring/shake a day is all that is needed. When adding the sugar to the sloes you do not need to pr*ck them with a pin or squash them or damage them in any way, simply remove leaves, twigs and stalks, put them in a glass jar or demi-john, pour the sugar on top and cover with clingfilm. Once the sloes and sugars have turned into a deep red liquid small bubbles appear, these are oxides given off in the process of alcohol production. A shuggle a day won't hurt but the best is to maintain an equal temperature of around 25C and leave it to ferment for about 6 to 8 weeks (longer if cooler).

I leave mine for 3 or 4 months, then I add cheap/supermarket/value Gin @ I litre for 1Kg of fruit. I give it a good shake and leave it for at least 6 months, often a lot longer.
At the end of this infussion period I syphon the clear liquid off into the empty gin bottles and its ready to drink.
Some of my friends like to taste the Gin so a little more is added to thin the mixture.
If the mix is too sweet, the fermentation didn't happen or wasn't allowed to finish (ie the Gin was added to soon).

The flavours are enhanced and get more complex if the mixture is left longer. A nutty/woody taste develops inside the blackcurrant and cherry flavours of the sloes if the 'mash' is left for a couple of years. If you like to taste the Gin, add some more when drinking (ie use your sloe-gin as a cordial).

Don't wash your sloes
Dont add Gin until the sloes have fermented and produced an alcoholic mash
Be patient, Sloe Gin is not a next week drink it's a 'it'll be ready next year'
The Gin flavours are swamped by the sloes so cheap Gin works well, as does cheap Vodka

 

Surly the act of pouring alcohol over the berries at the start will have the same sterilising denaturation effect as alcohol produced by the natural fermentation?

 

Do not wash your sloes, even if the alcohol produced from fermentation does create a sterile environment for germs I do not fancy having bird and insect droppings in my sloe gin.

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1 hour ago, old'un said:

Surly the act of pouring alcohol over the berries at the start will have the same sterilising denaturation effect as alcohol produced by the natural fermentation?

Do not wash your sloes, even if the alcohol produced from fermentation does create a sterile environment for germs I do not fancy having bird and insect droppings in my sloe gin.

Interesting logic @old'un, surely the act of pouring Alcohol into the mash will have a sterilising denaturation effect too ?

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40 minutes ago, miki said:

Interesting logic @old'un, surely the act of pouring Alcohol into the mash will have a sterilising denaturation effect too ?

Exactly my point, so why faff about with fermenting the berries to produce alcohol?

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9 minutes ago, old'un said:

Exactly my point, so why faff about with fermenting the berries to produce alcohol?

 

Do you make Sloe Gin yourself @old'un ?
Have you ever tasted a Sloe Gin made by fermenting berries or just a Sloe Gin where the Sloe berries were simply soaked in Gin ?

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Makes a massive difference, fuller rounder, thicker almost creamy with a lot more mouth watery long lasting fruityness and with a subtle hint of hazelnut if left for a few years.
The flowery/perfume of the base gin is so subtle it's almost gone but is noticable if you immediatly try the Sloe Vodka.

Tanqueray is a good base for the older mash as it suits the peppery coriander and hint of sweet liquorice it contains.

I used to live near Warwick and started making Sloe Gin then with Sloes off Lord Leighs estate and from around Stratford, not quite 40+ but probably 30 ish years ago :)
Now i'm using Sloes from doon the Clyde valley. There are two distinctly different bushes here, 1 is the normal thorny burghair which has lost most of its leaves and develop a grape sized blue sloe and the other is still covered in small yellow leaves and next to no thorns with smaller berries. This latter type really produces a deep ruby red mash, the resultant Sloe Gin is a deeper red with little to no difference in taste.

 

 

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