The bush that bears the sloe is called the blackthorn. This shrubby tree can reach a height of 4m and has very spiny thorns and shiny black berries. Tiny white blossoms appear on the tree from May onwards and the black sloes are the great-grandmothers of our cultivated garden plums.
Most of you will know about the delights of sloe gin – the making, the drinking (yum) or both. Most of you won’t know that the flowers are also edible and taste a little like almonds. You can use them as an unexpected addition to salads, as cake decoration or freeze them in ice cubes. You can also make a syrup from them, as you would with elderflowers.
It seems a shame to throw away the gin-soaked sloes once they’ve produced that wonderful ruby red tipple so why not make some Sloe Gin Chocolates in time for Christmas?
Sloe Gin Chocolates
500 g dark chocolate
500 g gin-soaked sloes, stones removed
85 g toasted hazelnuts, toasted flaked almonds or toasted pistachios, crushed
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. Stir in the sloes and nuts. Either drop into moulds or take a sheet of greaseproof paper and put 5cm blobs of the mixture onto the paper. Leave to set and enjoy.