Controversial I know, but I don't actually like Sloe Gin that much, or Damson Gin for that matter. I've not found any really great cocktails that use it and I don't think it's that great on its own.
I did enjoy making it though, so as there's a remote chance that my taste buds aren't superior to everyone else's; I'm dedicating this VeganMoBo post to it.
I made Sloe Gin in 2006, then Damson Gin in 2007. I added the used damsons when I'd finished to a kilner jar with brandy and sugar, then left on a shelf and completely forgot of its existence. I discovered it in summer 2010 and was delighted to find that it's actually pretty good. I'd be tempted to use brandy instead of gin for the first batch if I ever make it again.
Sloes grow in the wild in the UK are are relatively easy to find. Just make sure you look up what they look like in advance though and don't accidentally make deadly nightshade gin. Damsons are harder to find - though sometimes in shops its easier to find someone with a tree.
The recipe for both is essentially the same - wash and prick fruit, place in a kilner jar, add a few tablespoons of white sugar then cover with gin. Close the jar, and shake regularly for the first couple of weeks, then every now and then after. Traditionally you should wait until after the first frost before picking sloes - I'm not aware of any rules for damsons.
The first time I made it I meticulously measured out the ingredients, but in reality it doesn't really matter (and variety is good).
If you make it around now then it should be done in time for Christmas. You can use the fruit again (as I did with brandy) or attempt to eat it. Cooking with it sounds like a good idea, but all the alcohol boils off. I made chocolate with the sloes, but in reality it wasn't that good.
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