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Blackthorn: Prunus Spinosa.
N.O. Rosacea.

The sloes are best gathered after the first frosts and are usually made into jams, jellies, syrups or conserves; not forgetting sloe gin.

Sloes are rich in tannins, fruit acids and Vitamin C.

The flowers can be made into a herbal tea with depurative, diuretic and mildly laxative properties.

Sloe juice to boost the appetite:  Wash the sloes, cover with boiling water, cover and leave to stand for 1-2 days. Add 500 gms sugar to each litre of juice, simmer gently to dissolve sugar and allow to cool. Take a tablespoonful before meals.

Sloe Gin:
Take equal weights of sloes, gin and sugar.

Prick or, with a sharp knife, make a small incision in each sloe. This is tedious. Shortcut: bag the sloes and place in the deep-freeze. This causes the berries to split.

Place treated sloes, gin and sugar in a container with a water-proof lid or bung; a demijohn is ideal.

Shake every day until all the sugar is dissolved and occasionally thereafter.

Be patient and resist the temptation to "sample". It will be fine.

Strain and bottle the following year just before you go out to pick the next crop of sloes. The wait is worthwhile. It accentuates the subtleties of flavours!