Sunday, September 13, 2009

What are sloes?

After my blackberry crumble post I have had a few ladies ask me what sloes are. Well let me enlighten you, sloe expert that I am, having never even heard of them myself until last year.

Sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn bush. They are a dark blue/purple with greenish flesh. They have a seed at their centre and are very reminiscent of a small, very, very sour plum. They grow wild along the hedgerows in Guernsey in great numbers if you know where to look. I have found a fabulous ‘stash’ near the Reservoir which I hope will still be there when I go back in a few weeks time.

Now that I have picked and frozen some I have been doing a spot of research on the internet and have read quite varying reports about when to pick them. Quite a few people say that you should pick them after the first frost, yet others say that you can pick them before the first frost and freeze them to the same effect.

Well we have picked ours before the first frost and frozen them but I think I will collect some more after the first frost, cook both and see if there is a difference.

Some people also say that you need to prick them all over with a pin before using them but the ‘freezing’ group says that you do not need to do this step if you freeze them first, so we shall see.

I’ll post the results after the first frost. I’m making sloe gin and if I can collect enough i.e. if my helpers will aid in this endeavour, I will also make some sloe jam. I’ve never made jam before so this could be interesting.
PS. After writing the above I have just found more information which suggests that the fruit will not be ripe until the end of October, into November. I may just have to throw out our frozen sloes and call them a practice run, picking more later on in the season. Oh well, live and learn.


  1. Ah well, the problem with that is by October/November, there'll be none left! I freeze them and in my opinion, yes, this dispenses with the need for pricking them because the juice starts to run once the sloes are thawing. I'd have a go with the ones you've already collected, especially if they seem quite soft and therefore ripe. We made sloe gin and vodka two years ago (didn't find any last year), the gin was fab and we've kept another bottle full of vodka and gin as it apparently tastes better the longer it's kept. Hugh F-W of River Cottage suggests using vodka instead of the normal gin as vodka has a purer taste so you get more of the flavour of the fruit.
    Hen x

  2. I am collecting them now too, funnily I did a post on berries today.
    Good luck with what you will be making! It is such fun making things from wild berries picked in the countryside.
    Isabelle x

  3. I was given a delicious sloe cordial, and alas have finished it. I may have to bestir myself to find out how it's made. Your sunny photos are great.