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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Having sloe fun this weekend!

Ask any of my friends and they will tell you that it's a rare week that slips by without me attempting a new craft or creating a different concoction. It's now a running joke with my best friend and me that, should I be late to a get-together between us, the chances are I'll be in the kitchen potting chutney (the result of trying to combine making my own Christmas hampers and her birthday night out. Oops!).

This week has seen me bottling up a first attempt at making Slider. Having made and bottled our first batch of sloe gin earlier this year, it seemed such a shame to just dispose of those lovely berries that had turned the clear gin a beautifully deep purple tone, so I took to researching other uses for them.
It was during a conversation with the owner of the Happy Brewer (http://www.thehappybrewer.com/), a fantastic home brewing supply shop in Bedford where I buy all my home brewing goodies, that I was told about the delights of adding gin-soaked sloes to a demijohn full of cider. Pop an airlock in the neck of the demijohn and you're all set. It really is as simple as that.

It's suggested that the sloes are left to infuse for roughly 6-8 weeks before bottling, although I did leave mine in a couple of weeks longer, not being entirely satisfied with the strength of the colour or scent. Now I have a gorgeous, light rose coloured, fruity smelling cider.
Once completely bottled, it needs to be left to mature. I plan on leaving mine for at least 6 months, to allow that flavour to really deepen and develop. I have a feeling that the combination of gin AND cider will mean this would make a better long drink, mixed with lemonade and lots of ice, potentially being a little to strong to drink purely by itself. But I'm looking forward to finding out!

The bottling of the slider has coincided quite nicely with this year's sloe picking. The harvest was seriously impressive this year, but, in order to be a thoughtful, responsible forager, please remember to only pick as much as you need, leaving enough fruit behind for others or the wildlife. We managed to pick an impressive load, which are now residing comfortably in the freezer (their first 'frost' as it were. Sloes shouldn't be used until they have experienced freezing).

In a few weeks' time they will be mixed with sugar and gin or vodka (I haven't quite decided yet), and come to bottling next year, should this years' slider work well, I'll be starting the process again! Until then, the bottles will have to be hidden, lessening the temptation to crack one open to 'sample' any sooner than we should!

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