how ripe?

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Joined: 28 Sep 2014, 19:58

how ripe?

Post by Brentano » 02 Oct 2014, 10:42


I picked a few sloes on 28 September in the Yorkshire Dales. I've not used sloes before so I don't know (a) how ripe they were, or (b) how ripe they need to be for making nice sloe gin.

The sloes were fairly hard and some of them were a bit green in places. On the other hand, there were quite a few dried and shriveled fruits on the tree.

I left them in my kitchen for a couple of days and then froze them (not because I think freezing is important, but because I haven't got any gin yet!)

What do you think? Shall I use them? Or should I go foraging again in a week or two?


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Joined: 19 Mar 2015, 15:20

Re: how ripe?

Post by ChrisR » 19 Mar 2015, 19:28

Sloe bushes do tend to have a mixture of shrivelled fruit with live, healthy fruits - I'm not sure why this happens but perhaps the bush is under stress and decides to pull back on some fruit and put its energy into the most viable berries?

I would say it is a bit early and the longer you leave them, the better. You can test them by having a nibble - the skins will be incredibly bitter/dry (this is normal) but you should also be able to detect sweetness in the flesh too. The longer you leave them the sweeter the flesh will be and the better the flavour will be (remember you don't need sweetness because you will add sugar later anyway) but it is always a balance between waiting and possibly losing the fruit or picking and just trying a batch.

In 2014 I picked from the end of September right through to the week before Christmas ... yes, I actually found some really lovely big sloes in hedges in mid December! :D All of the early batches produced very tasty sloe gin so it wasn't a waste but I am still waiting for the later batches to mature in the jars. If you are in doubt then try leaving the fruit in the jar for longer - you can leave them in for 6 months to get extra flavour :)

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