Sloe Gin, Step 1: Gather the Fruit   5 comments

An Autumn walk on the Ridgeway is always good, but today’s trek was a mission to pick sloes for the annual Sloe Gin.

Hard to do the Devil’s Punchbowl justice from this angle but the freshly plowed field and the saturated soils prevented a precipice shot.

I had some solitary blackthorns scoped-out but they were already devoid of leaves and only had withered fruit (but doesn’t that describe us all?).  The overcast day and the necessity of watching the slick clay footing and huge puddles forced me to consider each tree as it was approached, and from quite a distance–and I was surprised how many hawthorns were along the field edges (with their pretty and plentiful but absolutely useless fruit compared to the sloe-bearing blackthorns).

Mostly defoliated hawthorn (relative of blackthorn) with its useless berries

Half a kilometer further on I arrived at a big stand of blackthorn bushes only to find they retained almost no sloes at all.  A horsewoman riding by paused and noted that the mild weather had devastated this year’s crop.  A bit further on (and off the main Ridgeway Trail on my way to Letcombe Regis) I found a much more rich stand–I think the Ridgeway bushes have been depleted by earlier hikers (although this stand still had fuck-all berries to speak of).

Three thickets of blackthorn were still fairly meagre pickings, but better than the devastation earlier on the trail

Still, it was meagre pickings, and while I hoped to have enough for 3 or 4 liters I think I barely scored enough for a normal sized bottle. Oh well, the effort is always more important than the final product.

See also:

Step O: Find Blackthorn

Step 2: Prepare the Infusion

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