Should I prick Sloes, should I pick sloes after the first frost? – How to make the perfect sloe gin

When shall I pick sloes? Do I need to prick sloes? – How to make perfect Sloe Gin

Perfect sloe gin
perfect sloe gin

You don’t need to wait until the first frost to pick your sloes nor do you need to prick them. I’m sorry if you are of the thousands of people who, every year, will do both and I’m really sorry if you have been doing both for years. But please stop, you’ll save yourself so much time. There is no need as we now have freezers. Freezers freeze things and can mimic the first frost. Also, when fruit is frozen the skin bursts, negating the need to prick your sloes too. Please use the spare time I have given you to help world piece or even to watch more TV. Just stop.

Adding sugar to perfect sloe gin

I’ve found that you don’t really need to put sugar in at the start of making any liqueur. It’s nice to do, it can look pretty in the jar that you use and it connects you to your drink and makes you feel like you are doing something but really, it’s unnecessary. In fact all of that shaking the jar around is a pointless waste of energy. It is far easier just to put your thawed sloes into a jar, top up with gin, then leave. The sugar can be added later.

Andy Hamilton a bit of a lush
Andy Hamilton a bit of a lush

I tend to take my sloe gin from the cupboard pour myself a shot not just because I’m a bit of a lush, but to see how tart it is. Then I’ll make up some sugar solution by adding equal measure of sugar and water. Normally this is about 250ml/1 cup of hot water to 250g/1 cup of sugar. Stirring to ensure it has dissolved fully, then cooling. I add a few ml at a time of the sugar solution to the gin and I’ll keep sipping until I’m satisfied with the results. This way I tailor the amount of sugar to my tastebuds.

How long do I leave my sloe gin?

How long do you leave it? I’ve been asked this a few times and people tend to worry about timings with things. It’s not like baking a cake, you don’t have to be exact. If it tastes ok, then well why not say it is done? Depending on how patient you are this can be anything from a month and a half to a year or even more if you are forgetful. Just try it and see, has the gin turned a nice rich colour? Does it taste of sloes? If yes to both, you have sloe gin.

The secret ingredient for perfect sloe gin

These days I also use a secret ingredient, a few drops of Vanilla essence. This imparts vanillin into the gin, vanillin is also released when you age booze (wine, beer, Whisky etc) in a barrel. The addition will give the effect of ageing to your sloe gin without having to actually age it and will wow those with attuned taste buds. Others generally like it too, but don’t always know why.

There you have it, the perfect sloe gin and what’s more I bet it’s a lot lazier an approach than how you have been making it.

To recap here is a quick perfect sloe gin recipe.


One jar filled with sloes that have been in the freezer overnight
Enough gin to fill the jar to the top.
Sugar, water
Vanilla essence.


Pour gin into jar and put jar into a cupboard.
Take out jar. Make sugar solution by mixing 50/50 sugar/hot water then allow this to cool. Add to the gin to taste. You can also add a few drops of vanilla essence.

Over to you

Let me know how you get on by posting a comment below. Failures too as that’s how we learn!

7 thoughts on “Should I prick Sloes, should I pick sloes after the first frost? – How to make the perfect sloe gin

  1. Don’t go tellin’ my faaaaamly they don’t need to prick sloes. It all depends on what you want from the procedure. Yes I could just shove ’em in the freezer for a bit, but then we wouldn’t have the “faaaaaamly fun for all the faaaaaamly” of congregating in the kitchen: bottling last year’s sloe gin to free up the jars I need for this year’s sloe gin; sampling same whilst happily chatting about all and sundry so that the sloe pricking goes faster and isn’t done by one lonely soul. I didn’t start making sloe gin until my kids were already adults, so of course they’ve been off to uni, round the world and back (well not quite but you get the drift) and are now off with their partners making their own lives. These days I gather who I can at the time for something that’s become a little bit of a tradition. A Mum seems to get to hear so much more when the chat’s accompanied by a bit of a mindless activity. And a tot of last year’s sloe gin certainly helps both along.

    1. Perhaps I could outsource my mindless activities, I can have you all de-stoning cherries and plums, coring and peeling apples and processing acorns for flour 😉 Nice story lizzie, sounds like you make it quite an event!

  2. Think the idea of freezing sloes is a great one, but I still think they should be left on the bushes for a bit longer to swell in the autumn rain. They won’t be picked off here by eager sloe pickers – there are plenty of bushes and not many people actually do anything with these free harvests. I like the idea of having more time but I think I’d like to work for world PEACE not world piece – although a piece of the world is quite nice, especially if it has sloes in!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.