Into a demi john pour a bottle of gin, 600g pricked sloes and 210g sugar. My method of sloe pricking is to take about 4 or 5 in the palm of my hand and roll them along the pointy side of a box cheese grater (the side with no other discernible purpose). Leave to mature for about 3 months, strain through a muslin into bottles and leave to mature in the bottle for a further 3 months. Don't leave the sloes in the gin for longer than 6 months as this adversely affects the flavour.
Cherry Plum Cordial
I weighed out 2 kilos of cherry plums, added 600ml of water and simmered gently til they were falling apart. The smell of the hot fruit at this stage was divine, delicate, sweet and fragrant. I helped them on their way by bashing up the fruit with a wooden spoon and a potato masher. I then strained the cooked plums in a jelly bag for several hours.
The resulting juice was measured and for every litre, 700g of sugar added (though this is variable to personal taste) I warmed the juice til the sugar dissolved and then used a scalded funnel to pour the cordial into warmed bottles. This is also nice poured over ice cream, cake or mixed with milk to make milkshake.
Blackberry cordial: Follow the above recipe but use roughly 1.5kilos blackberries and 500g elderberries in place of cherry plums and add a pinch of ground cinnamon and cloves. This makes a lovely warm winter drink, especially with a tot of whisky!
25 - 30 elderflower heads
1.8 k sugar
1 litre water
2 lemons (or 1 lemon and 1 orange)
75g citric/tartric acid
Make a sugar syrup by heating the water and adding the sugar, stir until dissolved. Put in a bowl, add the zest from the lemons. Slice the lemons and add them too. Cut the stalks off the flowers (and shake off any creepy crawlies) and add them and the citric acid. Leave to steep for 24hrs (don't worry, it's supposed to smell like cat pee at this stage!) Strain through a muslin and keep in the fridge, can also be frozen. Try it with gin, ice and a slice.