Sloe Gin and Sloe Chutney

Posted By Kerri

A couple of weeks ago, we went sloe picking with a friend. He has a spot that he visits every year which generally provides him with a plentiful haul and we’ve been meaning to go with him for a while. This year, since it was such a nice day, he thought he would take us somewhere new which he suspected might provide good pickings.

We started off slowly, picking individual berries from small bushes along the path until, out of the corner of his eye and across a field, our friend spied a bigger bush. When we reached said bush we realised it was surrounded by many other, even bigger bushes, heaving with sloes. We started to pick and soon realised that we need not have worried earlier about being greedy and stripping the bushes since there were huge amounts of berries available. We stopped after filling a couple of bags each and came home to find we had seven kilos between us.

It was late so the berries were squeezed into our tiny fridge and left until the next day when we began the long process of washing and de-stalking the berries. Back into the fridge again until the next evening when we had enough time to start turning them into something interesting.

We started off with a traditional sloe-gin and a traditional vodka. Since we had so many berries we also decided to experiment and make two smaller bottles of gin flavoured with almonds, lemon peel, cloves and cinnamon.

And then, since there were still so many berries left, we made a chutney.

Of course, we don’t know what anything tastes like yet since the gin needs to be left for at least six months and the chutney . I suppose that’s all part of the fun though.

Sloe Gin (or vodka)

600g sloe berries
250g sugar
1 litre gin or vodka

Wash and de-stalk the berries. Add to a sterilised jar with the sugar and shake vigorously. Traditional methods state that you should prick each individual berry (with a hawthorn if you’re being really traditional) to bruise the fruit and let out some juice. We figured the muddling method would work just as well though and life really is too short to prick seven kilos of sloes.

Top up with gin, mix and seal the jar.

Turn daily for a week and then weekly for a month. Store in a dark place for three months, or ideally, until next year.

Spicy Sloe Gin

600g sloe berries
250g sugar
1 litre gin or vodka
2 inch piece cinnamon
Small handful slivered almonds
2 cloves
2 strips lemon zest

Prepare as per above, adding the aromatics alongside the alcohol.

Sloe Chutney

1 kilo sloe berried
2 tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 medium sized onions, sliced
1lb raisins
1 teaspoon of hot chilli powder
2 inch piece of fresh root ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
12 cloves
Juice and grated rind of 2 oranges
1lb of soft brown sugar
1 pint white wine vinegar

Put the ingredients in a large cooking pot and stir, using a wooden spoon. Bring to the boil and stir occasionally. Reduce the heat so the mixture simmers and stir occasionally, for 3 hours or until it is thick. Ladle into clean, warm jars. Cover, label and leave in a cool place for a couple of months.

Recipe from the River Cottage forum.

Oct 10th, 2010

12 Comments to 'Sloe Gin and Sloe Chutney'

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  1. Wow so impressed by this – particularly that you foraged the ingredients as well!
    .-= gourmet chick´s last blog ..How to make lemon drizzle cake =-.

  2. that is an impressive amount of sloes. The trees are dripping with them this year. I made my sloe gin this weekend.
    .-= Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours´s last blog ..Double Chocolate Stout Brownies =-.

  3. Wow, you seem to have one fabulous pick, well done! They look a bit like bilberries, but I guess, if you needed to de-stalk them, they aren’t. And seven kilos at that!
    Was it possible to eat the berries fresh at all?


  4. ooo exciting stuff! I want to make sloe gin one day – hear it is delicious! Just also looking back on your most recent recipes – looking lush as usual – especially the lentils and hallomi! xxx
    .-= The Curious Cat´s last blog ..Twenty years on =-.

  5. Antonia said,

    I made sloe gin yesterday too. Can’t believe how many sloes there are this year. The chutney sounds interesting. I’ve seen a recipe for sloe gin jelly which you make with the sloes once you’ve decanted the gin later in the year. Think I may give it a try!
    .-= Antonia´s last blog ..Oriental steamed seabass =-.

  6. Kerri said,

    Thanks, GC. I think it’s the first time we’ve ever foraged for anything which was really exciting.

    They are, aren’t they, Helen? Interested to see the results of your haul.

    Thanks, Caramella. Stephen tried several berries and even though they look tasty, they were all just as tart as the first one!

    Thanks, CC. Hope you manage to find some sloes.

    I saw a recipe for the jelly too, Antonia. And also for some chocolates. I might give that a go too.

  7. Alex said,

    In Exeter, this year has been great for sloes and I have collected a huge amount over the last week. I am looking at a number of recipes and styles from dry to sweet and I will also be making sloe vodka.

    As there seems to be more parties during the winter months I am looking at experimenting with recipes for the sloes once removed from the gin.

    I hope to see the New Year in with a Sloe Fizz made with Champagne, Cava or Sparkling wine with a shot of sloe gin and a sloe for show.

    I have a few recipes on my blog at, where I will be updating readers on my progress along with pictures and a few sloe based recipes.

    Have you ever heard of the Tavistock Badger, whilst conducting my research I found a site Legendary Dartmoor, a link can be found on my blog, a great site, with an amusing story.

    Good luck and happy hunting.

  8. Kerri said,

    We hope to use the sloes again too, Alex. And I love the sound of sparkling wine with sloe gin too. Pretty lethal though I imagine!

  9. Alex said,

    Hi Kerri,

    Yes gin and sparkling wine is a good start to a party, certainly would relax people.

    I made some sloe syrup, which is great for cooking with. You can add it to stewed apples, or used to cook red cabbage. One idea for using gin soaked sloes, would be to add them to Venison stews, as the gin in the sloes is a great substitute for juniper berries. I recently made a Venison stew with red wine, gin and sloe syrup, all the details can be found on my blog at, look under slow cooker Sunday on the right hand side bar.



  10. Lilly said,

    Hi – Do you know where around London its possible to get me some sloes?

    hoping to make some gin and hoping I’ve not left it too late!


  11. Kerri said,

    I don’t I’m afraid, Lilly. There are some sloe forums online, perhaps check there. I’m not sure anyone will want to reveal their source though 🙁

  12. Kerri said,

    The syrup sounds lovely, Alex, as does the venison stew. Thank you!

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