Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sloe, sloe quick quick sloe

Being an ardent forager has some advantages (and a few pitfalls involving trespass and carrying knives and scissors) but it essentially means I can find something edible growing wild out in the countryside which is free and in abundance. Even nettles if you know what you're doing are quite edible and make a very nice soup, look up the recipes online there are quite a few of them, just wear all over clothing and gloves when picking.
However as August is now midway through my thoughts turn to fruit and what I can add to alcohol. Blackberry picking will probably start at the end of this month and will go into some cheap French brandy to make a very tasty winter warmer, this is the recipe I use, but there are others

450g/1lb blackberries
225g/8oz caster sugar
1 litre/1¾ pint brandy (no need for quality)
You can add a couple of cloves and some cinnamon too, but not strictly necessary

Mash up the blackberries and put them into a jar (parfait type if you can get them cheap) add sugar and brandy, shake every day till the sugar dissolves, then once a week for 2 months. Strain using a muslin filter (or fine nylon) and drink till you fall over, it does mature I'm told, but I've never made enough of it to find out.

However I was lucky the other day to spot these bushes growing near one of my dog walks.

Sloe berries and growing in abundance too, though probably not ready to pick till after the middle of October, still sloe gin here I come, just so happens I'm off to France on a booze cruise middle of next month, so I'll get a few litres of gin on my trip.
Best recipe I've found is here at the cottage smallholders site, there are others.
My good friends also have a plum tree growing in their garden that they'll give me some fruit from, there are also hedgerows full of bullace plums around here too, you can make bullace vodka from it, never tried it yet, but I'm going too.
The problem is of course, buying spirits even abroad is expensive, buying in this country really isn't worth it, besides I am averse to paying anything more in duty to the government than I already do. Anyway buying several litres of gin can get you funny looks from supermarket till people, I haven't been asked for I.D. yet, but it's coming. A thought did occur to me though, it's easy enough to make wine from the fruit, but after that there is the possibility of distillation (probably illegal) still as it would be for home consumption it's worth investigating, (though again the law frowns on this too). All I'd require are a stainless steel pressure cooker, some copper tubing, a drilled cork, plastic bucket some bluetack and a lot of ice and a little bit of time (probably a thermometer too)... just saying.

6 annotations:

Woodsy42 said...

If you want cheap and nice to drink why not just refine your wine making skills? With care and patience you can coax a 'sherry yeast' to around 18% so that the wine is strong enough to keep after opening.
You can make a 5 gallon batch of wine with some wild fruit (those wild plums should work), a can of concentrated grape juice, some sugar and a few extras (steriliser, yeast, stabiliser).
If you want to play distillation you can start with freezer methods which require no elaborate equipment. Doesn't make spitit but freezes some of the water out to make it stronger.

Indyanhat said...

Get on the net and type in Turbo yeast suppliers, T Yeast comes in several types the weakest will turn 6kg of sugar in 5 galls into 14 % by vol in 24 hours (nice for punch type drinks) next one up will turn 6kg in 5 gall into 21% by vol in 5 days this is half strength vodka kit and can be used for all sorts of infusions like sloe gin, I only use this stuff now (sod paying the price for the gin/vodka etc)works out at about £10-12 per 5 galls, bargain!!! and very effective it is too
It is actually an alchohol 'wash', which is the first stage liquor for distillation (illegal) but you can buy electric distillers (legally, just not allowed to use them) for around £150 from brewing supply houses on the net too!
Good luck and happy daze!!!hic!

Indyanhat said...

Ps. don't forget to 'prick' your sloes all over with a SILVER needle, steel will give it a nasty taste.
PPs pick your sloes 'before' the first frosts come otherwise the birds will have them, then put them in the freezer for a week and then let them thaw halfway before 'pricking' and adding to alchohol and sugar , adding a vanilla pod makes the drink a bit more velvety and smooth + the extra flavour is nice!

Indyanhat said...

PPPs if you have dense thickets of blackthorn around you , you can graft pears onto blackthorn (middle of the thicket) and then you will have a source of pears as well!

Leg-iron said...

You can make a reasonable beer from nettles. It's best to get them young, before they develop stings, unless you enjoy that 'tingly tongue' experience.

Don't forget dandelions, sold in salad bags as 'rocket' these days. The flower heads make wine, the leaves are salad and the roots can be boiled.

Best of all, they just grow back, no matter what you do to them! An unkillable food supply.

James Higham said...

It's getting to that time.