The weather is very changeable now, the days shorten and the sun is low in the sky. In between the many beautiful sunny autumn days filled with the bright colours of the turning leaves, there are dark, wet, cold days, when the mists come down and we follow our own need to withdraw, rest and reflect.
While you are out walking, keep an eye out for the blackthorn bushes and their ripening fruit, the sloes. They are found along the edges of fields and make thick impenetrable thickets, much loved by the birds and wildlife. A scratch from their thorns can easily turn septic so be careful when gathering their sloes, which are traditionally picked after the first frosts have softened them.
In the past they were rendered sweeter by burying them in straw-lined pots (with lids) and kept in the ground for several months. Sloes can be added to other hedgerow fruit to make hedgerow jam and also used for making wine and everyone’s favourite - Sloe Gin.
Traditionally wait until after the first frost have softened the sloes. You can also pick them before and put them in the freezer to mimic nature.
1. Fill one-third of a wide-necked jar with sloes that have been pricked with a clean pin.
2. Make it up to half full with organic sugar and then fill to the top with a good quality gin.
3. Shake daily for three months and watch the gin turn deep red.
4. Strain off the fruit, but do not squeeze. Rebottle, keeping some for the Solstice and some to save for one year for an improved flavour.
5. Rather than throw the gin soaked fruit away, cut the flesh from the stones and add to melted chocolate or chocolate cake!
1.2kg (3lbs) Sloes
1kg (2.2lbs) Sugar
4 litres (1 gallon) water
1 teaspoon yeast
1. Boil the sloes in half the water for 30 minutes, crushing them with a wooden spoon to break the skins and release the juice.
2. Pour into a clean bucket with the rest of the boiled water, the peel and juice of the oranges, cover and leave for three days, stirring every day.
3. Strain and bring to the boil with the sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
4. Let the liquid cool to lukewarm, stir in the yeast and then pour into a demijohn.
5. Fit an air lock and leave in a warm place until it stops fermenting.
6. Siphon off into wine bottles, cork and label. Wait for a year before drinking.
Glennie Kindred's book, Letting in the Wild Edges is available at a reduced price of £11.21 from our Green Shopping site HERE!