Glass Bottle Of DIy Sloe Gin
(Image credit: Oksana_Schmidt)

Sloe gin is a liqueur with a flavor reminiscent of plums, which is no wonder since sloe fruit is a species of plum. Sold as a traditional Christmas tipple in Great Britain, you can actually make sloe gin at home. As they say, timing is everything, so it is important to know when to make sloe gin for Christmas, since the process is simple but does take some time. Read on to learn when to pick sloes and how to make sloe gin from scratch for the holidays. 

When to Pick Sloes

Prunus spinosa or blackthorn bush is a species of flowering plant commonly found growing along rivers, canals and in hedgerows. The blooms give way to deep purple fruit in the fall. 

When to pick sloes has become somewhat of a contentious subject, but what is certain is when picking sloes for a sloe gin recipe, you should either pick after a freeze or pick earlier and freeze the fruit yourself. The drupes should be dark purple and soft. 

The idea here is that the freeze, either natural or manmade, will split the skins of the drupes so the juices will more easily marry in the gin. 

When to Make Sloe Gin for Christmas

If you want to make sloe gin at home for Christmas, Mother Nature has timed things perfectly. Sloe fruit is not ready until later in the fall when frost is imminent or has already struck. This gives the fruit time to be picked and infused in gin and sugar to create the ruby red and oh so delicious liqueur sloe gin. 

How to Make Sloe Gin from Scratch

There aren’t too many variations from one sloe gin recipe to another. The ingredients are simply sloe fruit, gin, and sugar. How much sugar you use depends on your sweet tooth. As to your choice of gin, use a drinkable gin, but it doesn’t have to be the most expensive. 

Fill a clean, sterilized glass jar about a third of the way with frozen sloe fruit. Add ¾ to 1 1/4 cups (150-300 g.) sugar to the fruit and cover with a liter of gin. Stir to distribute sugar. 

Cap the bottle and store the mixture on its side in a dark area, turning the bottle every other day. 

After three months (some say two), the liqueur is ready for Christmas cheer. Strain the sloe gin into sterilized bottles and enjoy. 

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.