The leaves in Parsonage Wood are changing colour, the meadow is full of pheasants and the deer have started their rutting season and bellow down the valley. There is a faint smell of woodsmoke is in the air as I forage the hedgerows for sloes.
This is the time of year I start to prepare The Hinton's Christmas Sloe Gin. The sloes come from the common blackthorn hedge found all over the Chilterns. Their bluish black berries are really bitter to taste, have green flesh and a small plum like stone in the centre.
How to make:
1. Freeze the sloes on a tray to create an artificial frost which also splits the skins.
2. Fill up some washed and sterilised large Kilner jars with sloes.
3. Add approximately 180g of sugar and top the jar up with gin.
4. Seal the lid tight and store in a dark place.
5. Give the jars a good shake every few days until the sugar has dissolved.
Just before the Christmas season starts I decant 'The Hintons Sloe Gin' into bottles for my guests to enjoy whilst relaxing by the blazing wood burner.