5 Sloe Recipes

Sloes are the fruit of the Blackthorn, so can be found amongst British hedgerows, woodland and scrubland. The amount of sloes found is very dependant on the weather in the spring and summer before they are ripe. If the weather has been hot and dry, then the sloes will be small, shrivelled and sparse. But if the weather has been warm and wet then the sloe season should be good. 

So being as we have just had a rather warm and soggy summer, let’s share a few great sloe recipes so we can all make the most of this year’s bumper crop!

Let’s start with the classic…

Sloe Gin

  • 500g Sloes
  • 250g Sugar
  • 70cl Gin
  • Remove stems, leaves & bugs – then put in the freezer over night, unless the sloes have experienced the first frost. This is said to improve the flavour.
  • Put the frozen sloes into a 1.5 litre air tight glass jar
  • Pour in the gin
  • Seal lid and gentle rotate/mix
  • Store in dark cool cupboard, and remove each day for the first week to give a gentle rotate/mix
  • Then leave in the dark cupboard for 3-4 months to mature
  • Strain through a clean muslin cloth and decant into clean dry bottles

To give the gin a “festive” taste, add 2 cinnamon sticks and a few cloves at the start of this process, then remove before bottling.

Share with friends around the campfire. Enjoy!

Sloe & Apple Jam

  • 450g Sloes
  • 450g Apples
  • 250 mls water
  • 1 Lemon
  • 850g Caster Sugar
  • Remove any leaves, stems & bugs, and the squeeze each sloe to push out the stone – trust me, it’s worth the effort!
  • Peel, core and finely dice the apples
  • Put the fruit, plus the lemon zest and juice, along with the water into a large pan
  • Cover, and bring to the boil
  • Reduce to a simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until the fruit has softened to a pulp
  • Depending on the apples used, they might go to a pulp, or they might stay firm. If they remain firm and they are chunkier than you’d like then mash them down with a potato masher.
  • Add the sugar, and a dash more water if the pulp is too thick
  • Boil the mixture, stirring to help the sugar dissolve
  • This jam will reach the setting point fairly quickly as it’s naturally high in pectin.
  • You can test the jam’s setting point by putting a blob of it on a plate and putting it in the fridge for a minute – if it forms a skin on the top then it’s ready. 
  • Using a sterile spoon, scoop the jam into sterile dry glass jars (make sure you sterilise the lids too)
  • Leave to partially cool, then add the lids and store in the fridge

This should store for a few months in the fridge….if it lasts that long…it doesn’t in this house!

Warming Sloe Syrup

  • 750g Sloes
  • 325 mls Water
  • 600g Brown Sugar
  • 1 Slice Fresh Ginger
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • Remove any bugs, leaves & stems 
  • Add the sloes & water to a large pan
  • Cover, and bring to the boil
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 -15 minutes, stirring regularly and mashing with wooden spoon to start to break the fruit downed release the juice
  • Once the fruit has soften, press it through a sieve, and then drain through a clean muslin cloth
  • Return the sloe juice to the pan
  • Add the sugar, ginger & cinnamon
  • Cover and bring to a rapid boil
  • Uncover and simmer for a further 20 – 25 mins, stirring regularly
  • Leave to cool
  • Remove the ginger & cinnamon stick
  • Decant into sterile bottles, seal and store in the fridge

This recipe works well as a warm sauce with game, on puddings or as syrup like tonic – due to its high levels of Vitamin C.

Sloe Chutney

This is an amazing recipe with game, or served with cheese and cold meats.

  • 1kg Sloes, de – stoned
  • 2 Medium Apples – peeled, cored & diced
  • 200g Raisins
  • 1 Teaspoon Hot Chilli Powder
  • Thumb-sized Fresh Ginger – finely grated
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg Powder
  • 450g Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1 Pint White Wine Vinegar
  • Put all of the ingredients in a large pan, stir, cover and bring to the boil
  • Keep covered and a rolling boil for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Reduce and simmer for a further 3 hours the lid off, stir regularly, it should start to thicken but be careful it doesn’t go too far or burn
  • Ladle into sterile glass jars, seal and store in the fridge
  • Ideally use within 3 months….not that it lasts that long in our house!

Sloe & Crab Apple Sorbet

  • 2 Large Mugs of Sloes (add in some other berries to make up the quantity if needed – raspberries go well with this)
  • 1 kg Crab Apples (other apples can be used but you might want to reduce the sugar and increase the water)
  • 125g Caster Sugar
  • Juice & Zest of 1 Lime
  • 1 Slice of Fresh Ginger
  • 150 mls Water
  • De-stone the sloes
  • Dice the crab apples – no need to peel and core 
  • You need 1kg of fruit in total after the prepping stage
  • Add the fruit & water into a large pan
  • Bring to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer for approximately 15 minutes, until the fruit is a soft pulp
  • Push the fruit through a sieve and keep this juicy pulp to one side (discard what was left in the sieve)
  • In a clean pan add the water, sugar, lime juice & zest, along with the slice of ginger
  • Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, and then bring to the boil for 5 minutes
  • Remove the ginger
  • Stir the hot sugary syrup into the fruit pulp and mix well
  • Leave to cool
  • Pour into a plastic tub (an ice cream tub seems appropriate here!)
  • Freeze for 1 hour, then remove and give it a good mix
  • Return to the freezer for a further hour before repeating the stirring process
  • Repeat this for a further 1-2 times, then leave in the freezer until needed
  • Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving


These are some great recipes using the tasty sloes that seem to be abundance this year. But as with all foraging, be 100% sure of your plant ID, and always forage responsibly and sustainably. 

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