Sloe-ly competing despite Covid

Ingredients sloes, sugar and gin

We had to cancel Rye News’ annual Sloe Gin Competition in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but we will be holding the competition in February / March 2021 according to the government guidelines at the time – and as a last resort it will be a virtual competition with entries being left at a venue to be judged.

This month, October, is the time to pick sloes which grow on Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) bushes that you find in hedgerows. If you have never made sloe gin before, making sloe gin is slow, but not laborious. There’s no cooking required, just patience as the sloes steep in the gin.


450g/1lb sloes
225g/8oz caster sugar
1litre/1¾ pint gin


1. Prick the tough skin of the sloes all over with a clean needle and put in a large sterilised jar.
2. Pour in the sugar and the gin, seal tightly and shake well.
3. Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake every other day for a week. Then shake once a week for at least two months.
4. Strain the sloe gin through muslin into a sterilised bottle

This is not really a recipe, more just a loose set of instructions as the nice thing about sloe gin is that it lends itself to improvisation. Freezing the sloes then hitting them with a hammer instead of pricking them is one option!

If you still have some of last year’s brew and not drunk it during the lockdown, we will judge them as well as this year’s new brews.

[Editor’s note: And if you are looking for ideas a local supermarket in Rye usually has a wide range of gins in the run-up to Christmas – and may provoke some thoughts about how to pimp up your sloes!]

Image Credits: Dennis Leeds George .


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