Hedgerow Happiness – Part 1: Sloe Gin, Sloe Sherry and Rosehip Syrup



The hedgerows are a rich source of wonderfulness; sloes, rosehips, blackberries, elder, hawthorne , all of which have great culinary merit.  I will cover all these as they come into season. 

Today I’m going to tell you about sloes and rosehips.  Sloe Gin is one of the great pleasures of winter and is unbelievably easy to make.  I then use the sloes again to make Sloe Sherry, which is a greater pleasure still in my opinion. 



Rosehip syrup was a wonderful wartime essential when citrus fruits were so hard to come by, because it is packed full of Vitamin C.  A dessertspoonful every day is a far cheaper alternative to taking vitamin C tablets and more natural.  Personally I like it poured over vanilla ice-cream, waffles or pancakes.

Also remember that home made preserves, alcohol, cordials and syrups make lovely presents for your friends.  Chose an attractive bottle or jar and decorate it with your own label and a ribbon and you will be loved forever.  Incidentally, you will be amazed how many people stop and talk to you when you’re foraging in a hedgerow, and they will often have interesting things to tell you.  Some are nutters of course, and they are the most interesting of all.


1 x large bowl or clean bucket with a lid (old nappy buckets are perfect for this)
a needle, cocktail stick or corncob fork
(eventually) bottles for putting it in
1 x sieve
1 sheet of muslin or a coffee filter

2 ½ lb sloes – approximate – this is not an exact science
1 litre of very cheap gin (or vodka if you prefer)
4oz (120g) white sugar – honey can be used instead for a more meady flavour
Take off all the leaves and twigs
Prick all the sloes and put them in your bowl or bucket
Pour in the gin and add the sugar
Put the lid on and leave until Christmas (although preferably 3 months)
Shake gently every day
Then strain off the liquid and filter it through fine muslin or a coffee filter
Bottle it.  Ideally it should be left to mature for 6 months but I can never wait.


Put the sloe berries back into the bucket and pour over a litre of cheap sherry
Leave for another month, shaking daily
I challenge you not to drink it immediately (and you too will be shaking daily!)


2 x large pans – a good sized hob-safe casserole will do nicely
1 sharp knife or, better still, a blender or mini chopper
1 x colander
1 x jelly bag (or fine muslin and a sieve)
Sterilised small bottles or jars

2lb / 960g ripe rosehips – stalks and leaves removed
4 pints boiling water
2lb / 960g white sugar

Roughly chop the rosehips
Put them into the pan with 2 pints of boiling water and bring back to the boil
Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for half an hour
Strain off the liquid through a colander and then strain again through a jelly bag
Return the hips to the pan, add another 2 pints of boiling water
Bring back to the boil and leave to infuse for half an hour
Strain as before
Combine the two liquids in a clean pan and boil until it is reduced by about half
Take it off the heat and add the sugar, stirring until it is dissolved
Bring back to the boil and boil hard for 10 minutes
Pour into the warm, sterilised bottles or jars, seal,  leave to cool, then store


Filed under Children, Christmas, Family and Friends, Food, Hedgerows, Outdoor Activities, Recipes, Seasonal

4 responses to “Hedgerow Happiness – Part 1: Sloe Gin, Sloe Sherry and Rosehip Syrup

  1. Pingback: Rose Hip November, by Vashti Bunyan and rosehips in general « Go litel blog, go …

  2. Orlando

    Hi WH,

    Strangely, WordPress sent me about 8 emails to tell me of new Wartime Housewife posts, all of which were tagged ‘under the net’ and appeared to have been posted retrospectively.

    Anyway, once here I started looking around again and came across Hedgerow Happiness – Part 1.

    Here’s the note I wrote to myself on making Sloe Gin, one of many stuffed in the ‘Miscellaneous’ folder on my ThinkPad.

    Sloe Gin
    Bottle of Gin
    1 lb Sloes
    1/4 lb Sugar
    This is a ratio of Sugar:Sloes = 1:4
    On Thursday 2 November 2006, I used..
    Nearly	2 bottles of Gin
    	2 lb Sloes
    	1/4 lb Sugar
    This is a ratio of Sugar:Sloes = 1:8
    And it was too dry!

    Now I certainly don’t like sweet syrupy booze and yet your recipe would suggest that your Sloe Gin was even drier than my ‘too dry’ stuff.
    So my question is, just how dry was yours?!

    Some friends of mine did the Sherry rinse thing to get another life from their Gin soaked Sloes and said that it was pretty good.


    • wartimehousewife

      Orlando – Ignore the comments on “under the net” , look into my eyes and forget you’ve ever seen them!!!! It is part of a cunning two part marketing plot and I completely forgot that subscribers would be sent them automatically.

      Re the gin, mine is not dry and not disgustingly sweet either.
      Hang on, I’ll just go and have a swig to remind myself…… mmmmmm………
      Well, it seems to be triphasic. The first hit is the ooooh factor, the second is a slight dryness, the third is warming happiness
      Does that help?

      • Orlando

        Hah! Well I walked into that one!
        Yes, OK, I know, how do you describe a taste?
        Well that wasn’t the first time I’ve made it. In the days before the internet, I followed a recipe given by a friend which was: Pound of Sloes, Pound of Sugar, Bottle of Gin. As you can imagine it was like that syrup that you used to get with tinned fruit, before there was an ‘in juice’ version. The only nice thing about this Sloe Gin from ‘The Before Time’ was that it had that really distinctive almondy flavour. And it gave rise to an amusing incident when a non-drinker (but not a teetotaler) downed half a pint in a couple of minutes, unaware of its strength!

        Determined not to waste good Gin again I wanted to make sure I didn’t make another batch of overly sweet stuff so I looked at loads of recipes on the internet and settled on the one I posted earlier. Have you ever tried eating a sloe when you were picking them. Well, that was what it tasted like – really very dry indeed! In the end I mixed it with a bottle of Gordon’s Sloe Gin and the blend was quite drinkable.


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