Mellow Friutfulness?

Keats (1795-1821), one of England’s Romantic Poets who died at a very young age, described Autumn as: Season of mellow fruitfulness. (no, I have not forgotten the mists but so far this year it has been more a “Season of drenching rain”. I digress.

Living on the edges of London I can still find my fair share of  hedgerow fruits….. blackberries, bullaces, cherry plums, rose hips, sloes and fungi of various kinds.

The blackberries, plums and bullaces are over which leaves the Rose hips, Sloes and some fungi.

This afternoon, in a break in the weather that has disrupted the golf over in Wales before making its way here, the hunt was on for sloes for sloe gin and maybe for some other recipes.

The results were prodigious :

Just a bowl full of the sloes collected this afternoon.

Sloes are the fruit of the Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). They have a most beautiful blue bloom when first picked which can be seen to a small extent in the above picture. They have a mouth puckering astringent flavour, not in the least bit pleasant but a useful experience for would be wine tasters.

Traditionally sloes should not be gathered until the first frosts of  autumn but I’m afraid I have disobeyed the country lore… there is too much competition for these black beauties. Many birds love them. I will put them in the freezer overnight . That should suffice.

Sloe gin is not my favourite tipple but it seems to go down well with visitors….

A quick recipe– pick sloes after the first frost, prick them all over with a thorn from the sloe bush )okay a needle will do) and for every pound of sloes you collect, add 8 oz of caster sugar and 1 1/2  pints of gin, then seal in a jar.  Leave the gin for at least two months to steep, agitating the container occasionally, but the longer you leave it, the smoother the results will be.

Occasionally one finds a special bush that produces extra large, jusicy sloes. I must try taking some cuttings and striking them to plant around for the future.


7 Responses to “Mellow Friutfulness?”

  1. bikehikebabe Says:

    Never heard of sloes, nor “tipple”. Nice to know an Englishman.

  2. Grannymar Says:

    Ever tried them with Vodka?

  3. rummuser Says:

    Amazing! So this is what sloe is like. We have them growing in many hedges and children pick them with abandon and to get the stains out of their uniforms is quite a chore. In India, they are dried and used for medicinal purposes in the Ayurvedic and Siddha Vaidhya systems for intestinal problems.

    • Magpie 11 Says:

      Probably not the same species. Our Sloes are very astringent and dry tasting…I doubt if children would pick these willingly!

  4. Ursula Says:

    Dearest Magpie (where does the 11th come into it? Is it the day of your birthday? Which month?)

    Poets, given to wasting, tend to die young. Must be all the rhyming. Grinds you.

    I have fond memories of hedges – and fields. My mother – in times of dire need, and having been brought up in past war straits – most inventive how to find sustenance for her offspring. Do you remember Sorrell? Sour. So nourishing; keeps you munching for ages. As do apples. My first relationship broke because the guy (other than as easy going as a stoner can be) couldn’t stand my munching an apple last thing at night. Beats snoring any time. Also still have – decades later – marvellous set of teeth.


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