I used to hate Sloe gin when I was younger, in fact I didn’t like gin at all, but like blue cheese and olives it is something I have very much grown into. My Dad always used to make a batch and offer it round at Christmas and I always forces some down but never enjoyed it, something I feel very sad about now I have started making my own. A well known brand of gin now sells Sloe Gin I prefer making my own, its easy, probably cheaper and I can get the balance of sugar to fruit to my own taste.
Firstly what is a sloe, Prunus spinosa is the fruit of the blackthorn tree and grows across most of the uk and Europe, once you know what you are looking for they are easy to spot when they are in fruit, with small purple berries with a blue bloom and sharp thorns. Sloes ripen from August onward but are best picked in October or November. Whilst technically they are edible they are so mouth dryingly sour I think the best thing to do is add them to gin.
Sloe gin takes a long time to infuse, but after the initial faff you can leave it alone to make itself. The end result is a gorgeous deep purple, plummy liqueur, perfect for cold winter evenings.
Here is my method.
1 bottle of gin ( I use a well known supermarkets own brand as anything too subtle would be wasted) and a spare empty bottle, both sterilised with boiling water.
150g of sugar ( more or less to taste)
3 or 4 handfuls of sloes per bottle.
Sterilise the bottles and divide the gin between the two. Split the sugar equally between the two. Wash the sloes and divide between the two, pricking the fruit with a fork before dropping them into the gin. Store in a cool dark place for at least two month, shaking occasionally. Strain the sloes out of the gin and re bottle. Apparently it can be kept for over a year and matures well if you can leave it for that long! We never do.
Can be enjoyed neat, but is lovely with soda water or even a dash in some bubbly for very special occasion.
Last weekend me and The Man were involved in the first good for nothing a day which saw three amazing causes and a whole host of creative people come together matching skills with needs and seeing how much we could together in 24 hours. The cause we decided to work on was Global Generation an organisation dedicated to giving young people opportunities and helping them play a part in creating a sustainable future. Based in and around Kings Cross they have developed roof gardens with companies based in the area and have a campsite in Wiltshire which gives the young people they work with a chance to spend time on an organic farm in a very rural area, a sharp contrast to the area they live in.
The day started with a visit to their skip garden, in the middle of the Kings Cross station building site.
I was so impressed by the work they do there, all the skips can be moved and run on a crop rotation system, the team also have an arrangement with the canteen at the Guardian so the young volunteers or “generators” can hone their business skills and confidence selling produce to the chef.
It was very cold, and there was still snow on the ground but there was still an impressive variety of crops growing, more than on our allotment! Urban agriculture is something I’m really interested in and it was great to see the innovative use of space and diversity of things being grown.
We were given a tour of the site by one of the generators and then headed back to base to get working on the briefs for each project. The Man and I worked with some of the young people on their Facebook and twitter presence so they could communicate more easily and quickly with a wider group of people; whether that is young people uploading photos from their phones or letting people know about open event’s at Global Generation’s sites. Hopefully it will be sustainable, easy to manage and take their work to a wider audience.
The day was very busy on and my head was spinning by the end of it, but it was brilliant to be part of something which made a real difference in a short space of time as well as helping a cause I feel passionately about and the young people were a joy to work with. You can find out more about Global Generation at their website and now you can follow them on twitter have a look, they really are rather wonderful!
A rewind to summer on the allotment because it’s too cold to dig much up at the moment with the ground frozen solid. We have tried to grow aubergines twice, last year wasn’t a success. This year with a better green house and ( a bit more warm weather) we managed to grow these beauties.
I wanted a recipe which would show off the aubergines, many books suggest salting aubergines to draw out any bitterness but modern varieties have been developed not to have this bitterness. I simply roasted the aubergines untill they were soft (they are done when the flesh starts to collapse) and ate them with Yotam Ottolenghi’s Marinated mozzarella.