How to Pick Sloe Berries

Written by dawn gibbs
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Sloe berries are the fruit of the blackthorn bush that is native to Ireland and parts of England. It has been naturalised in parts of eastern North America and New Zealand. The sloe berries are the flavouring ingredient in homemade sloe gin, a popular holiday drink. Homemade sloe gin is made by fermenting your own sloes, or by adding sloes to already prepared gin and letting it steep. You can also use sloes to make sloe jam or jelly preserves.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Gloves
  • Basket

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  1. 1

    Wait until after the first frost of the fall or winter. The frost brings the sloes to full maturity and helps split the berries, which makes them easier to process for making gin or preserves.

  2. 2

    Put on gardening gloves so you do not stain your skin with the juice. Wear old clothes.

  3. 3

    Grasp the berries between your thumb and forefinger. Twist and pull to remove the sloes from the stem. Put them in a basket or bushel. You will need about 0.68kg. to make two bottles of sloe gin. If you are making preserves, pick enough to satisfy your recipe.

Tips and warnings

  • Prick the sloes with a needle if they have not split in the frost before you put them in the decanters to make sloe gin. This helps them release their flavour.

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