sloe gin

Easiest apple schnapps

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat

Please do put a penny in the old man's hat

If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do

If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you!

And while the geese get fat, I start making Christmas drinks ... the sloe gin is already underway but there are still some sloes in the hedgerows.  

Rachel Redlaw sloes

This picture is from last weekend so do go foraging and see if you can find some.  Sloe gin makes such a great twist on a kir royale - just put a little in a champagne flute and top with your choice of fizz. 

I also picked up some apples when I was in the countryside at the weekend and made some super-simple apple schnapps when I got home. 

Rachel Redlaw apple schnapps

This really couldn't be easier - just core and then chop up a couple of big apples (cookers or eaters, both work, just give a different flavour).

Pop all the little bits of apple into jars or bottles then add a tablespoon or so of sugar syrup.  

Don't be put off by making a sugar syrup as it's really easy and only takes minutes (well, you do then need to allow it time to cool of course).  

I've usually got some in the fridge in case an urgent need (yes, need) for vodka sours arises (sugar syrup method in the vodka sours recipe).

Rachel Redlaw apple schnapps

To be honest, for the apple schapps, you could mix a tablespoon of boiling water with a tablespoon of sugar and use that, it'll be absolutely fine.

Then top up with vodka and that's it! Do make sure the vodka completely covers the pieces of apple as they're going to go a bit brown anyway (and that's fine) but if some are above the surface and poking into the air they are REALLY going to go brown. (Still fine - just when you notice it, cover them with vodka - and yes I'm talking to myself here!).

Leave for a few weeks in a cool dark place and turn occasionally. Strain before pouring back into nice bottles to serve or give as presents.

Rachel Redlaw apple schnapps

I'll be back to share the finished article nearer Christmas ... this is a lovely drink to serve very chilled in small glasses.


Sloe gin

I love this time of year.

Autumn. Fall.  Call it what you will.  

Rachel Walder autumn Fall sloe gin

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness indeed (the photo is my local park this week). I love crisp mornings, sunny days and cosy evenings.

And I love making preserves, pickles and infusions that will see us through winter. 

It's the perfect time to go looking in the hedgerows for sloes - they're a bit early this year so now is probably about as late as you can leave it.  I'm lucky - my dad has sloes growing in the field and picked and sent me a box of them in the post ... 

So now's the time to the sloe gin started ready for Christmas.

If you make it now, it'll be good at Christmas. If you can wait, it'll be even better next year.  And even better the year after.

So simple to make - do give it a try if you can get hold of some sloes.

Rachel Walder sloe gin

All you need are the sloes, a bottle of gin and caster sugar.

First ... make yourself a G&T. Why not?


Then, using the point of a small knife, or a pin, prick each sloe a few times (unless it's so juicy it's already burst, as a few of mine have).

Rachel Walder sloe gin

Get a bottle or a jar to house the sloe gin until it's ready to strain and put into pretty bottles.  I used to have a huge jar that looked great, but have no idea where it's gone so today am using an old vodka bottle and a jar. 

Put in a layer of sloes and cover with a layer of caster sugar.

Keep layering until the bottle's full / the sloes are finished.

Rachel Walder sloe gin
Rachel Walder sloe gin

Then pour in the gin, leaving time for it to bubble through the sloes and sugar before pouring in more.

Just leave in a cool-ish and dark-ish place until Christmas, turning and tipping every few days - or whenever you remember - so over the next few weeks the sugar completely dissolves.

Rachel Walder sloe gin

When it's ready, I'll be back here to change that header picture to the beautiful ruby-coloured finished product!