One of my friends remarked the other day that there were thousands of sloes growing on a nearby hill. Wonderful, I thought. I can make sloe gin. Impatient to get on with it, I was all ready to go a-picking on the weekend, when she added an important caveat - they're not ripe yet. (If I were an experienced sloe picker, I would surely have known this, but I'm not. And so many other things are ready for harvesting right now.)
I resigned myself to waiting for a couple of months... and then I remembered that I had some fresh cranberries in the freezer. I'd picked them up when they were massively reduced after Christmas, and hadn't yet thought of a use for them.
Cranberry gin has a certain ring to it, doesn't it? I decided to add a few strips of orange peel, too, for a festive feel (I'll be saving some of this for Christmas!).
To fill a standard 70cl (700ml) bottle, I found that I needed about 250g of cranberries. Then it took around 400ml of gin to top it up, so this is a perfect way to use up a half-bottle of neglected spirits if you have some lying around in the liquor cabinet.
Another friend had already pointed me towards some tips on sloe gin making, which suggested that the best way to draw out the flavours was to make the original infusion without any sugar, and then sweeten to taste at the end. In fact, given my love for a dry gin and tonic, I wasn't really sure that I wanted to add any sugar at all. I may try sweetening another batch in future, but for now I'm content to enjoy this just as it is.
Cranberry Gin Recipe
250g fresh cranberries
A couple of slices of orange peel
- Stab the cranberries with a knife or skewer to pierce the skins.
- Remove the flesh and pith from a small wedge of an orange, and slice into thin strips.
- Fill an empty gin bottle with the cranberries and orange peel.
- Pour in gin (using a funnel) to fill the bottle.
- Store in a cool spot, shaking the bottle once or twice a day to stir.
- After 2 days, my gin was already a gorgeous pink shade, with a delicate cranberry flavour. By 2 weeks, it was very drinkable, and I rebottled it into two 200ml bottles.