Blackthorn, sloes and The Gin.
Every autumn, I keep my eyes peeled for berries that completely change our facial expression once eaten. Herbalists call this powerful medicinal action ASTRINGENCY. Astringent constituents tighten the tissues they come in contact with, making the body much harder to be invaded by pathogens - > sloes are great to use in food poisoning, mouth ulcers and sore throats.
Other plant parts were used for asthma and fevers in the past. In English hedgerows, sloes are often accompanied by their close relatives, also known as bullaces or damsons. Sloes are generally smaller and grow on bushes with plenty of thorns, whereas damsons have bigger fruit often sweeter in taste, less or no thorns and wider leaves.
In early spring, blackthorn bushes, which to make things more fun are not called sloe bushes, blossom white with their little almond flavoured blackthorn flowers. These gems are edible and suitable for syrup making. People gathering them deserve a medal for their endurance as the flowers are incredibly small and heavily protected.
The berries can be ready as soon as August and on top of all their body healing qualities, they will make you happy and warm with the help of some gin and sugar.
The process is very straightforward once you have the sloes and any cuts and scratches from thorns are taken care of. Generally, the recipe calls for 450g sloes, 350g sugar and 70cl bottle of gin. Split everything into 2-3 bottles and leave in a cool and dark place for 3 months, shaking the bottle occasionally to make sure all the sugar dissolves. Enjoy with friends during winter months.
Bring wild plants to your home.