Oh how times have changed! 10 years ago, foraging for gin would have meant something completely different. It would have been about 4am and I’d have been staggering round a bar mine-sweeping drinks.
Fast forward to 2013 and foraging for gin takes on a whole new meaning. Every year around the autumn, I try to do something a little bit creative. Don’t ask me why, maybe the autumnal colours bring out my artistic side. I have made a Christmas cake for the last few years and I usually manage to find time to make something else that uses up some of the wild and home grown fruit and vegetables that can be found in abundance at that time of year. I’ve made chutney a couple of times, usually containing mainly apples, green tomatoes and courgettes because it’s what we seem to end up overrun with. My personal favourite though is sloe gin.
Sloe gin is dead easy to make, it’s based on just buying a bulk load of cheap, supermarket’s own brand gin. The slightly more tricky part is picking the sloes. You have to wait until after the first frost so that the sloes are split. Alternatively, you can pierce them yourself after picking, or put them in your freezer overnight to cause them to split. I prefer the natural method, particularly as the first frost is a great alarm clock to awaken my inner gin monster and remind me to pick the sloes.
This year though, I’m going to do things a little bit differently. Every Christmas, I catch up with some friends and we swap Christmas gifts. They often come along with fabulous offerings such as home-made biscuits or jams, and this year my friend gave me a bottle of sloe gin. I’m ashamed to admit that having recently started combining working with looking after Libby, by Christmas I hadn’t managed to find the time to make anything other than a rather late, sorrowful Christmas cake. This led to me turning up with a shop bought bottle of cider for each of my friends at our Christmas gathering. Oh the shame!
Well, it’s not happening again. This year, I’m starting early. I’m starting in May to be precise. You see it’s not just sloes that can be turned into great gin. I’ve discovered that most fruit can be combined with various cheap liquors to make home-made delicacies. I’m talking cherry brandy, strawberry vodka, blackberry gin… the list goes on. I’m going to start to keep an eye on what fruit is seasonal and where I can forage for it. Then I’m going to start making everything early and make as many bottles as I can.
Disclaimer- this is a sponsored post but views, suggestions, inner gin monsters and the mine-sweeping ghost of Christmas past are all mine.