It may look as if I was just taking pictures and Matt was doing all the work, but that's not true. I was faster! My hands have the scratches to prove it.
Since it was a spontaneous idea, I was not prepared. You have to lean into the thorny bushes, so tights, dress and cardigan are not the best items of clothing to wear... My sleeves kept getting caught in the branches.
This is what's left from last year's sloe gin. Matt was anxious to make more before it is gone completely, which is a real concern, as I am responsible for its dwindling (all those homeopathic quantities I have consumed add up).
It has the most beautiful colour, is velvety and sweet, but not sickly sweet. Here is Matt's recipe:
Pick the sloes in October or November (two big handfuls to make a 700ml bottle). Remove the stalks and all the woody bits (and any leaves - I somehow picked lots of leaves...). Wash them (the sloes). Put them in the freezer overnight to mimic the effect of a frosty night (unless you pick them after the first frost). Defrost them the following day and prick each berry with a needle, so that the sloes can infuse the gin properly (although Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall says there is no need, as the cold bursts them anyway). Half fill a jar with the sloes, fill with gin, add about half the weight of sloes in sugar or honey, a few cloves, a bit of cinnamon (optional) and shake well. Shake every day for the first week, then every few days, and less often as time goes on. After a few months strain into a bottle. Any sediment will settle after a few weeks. Carefully decant into a clean bottle. Don't leave the sloes in the gin for more than six months.
Apparently sloe gin is also nice in berry compote - the place we went to for lunch today had a dessert including this combination, but I haven't tried it yet.