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Are these Sloes?

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paddyb2

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I thought I'd have a go at making some Sloe Gin as I've discovered a massive crop of Sloes growing in a hedgerow near where I live. At least I think they are Sloes. Most descriptions mention thorns (the bush they grow on is called Blackthorn), but I'm not seeing any thorns, just stumpy little nodules on the branches between clumps of berries. From reading up, the only other things they could be are Damsons or Bullace, but they seem too small (looking very much like large Blueberries) and have the sour astringent taste I've read about. Are there different varieties without thorns? Some pics attached.
 

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Pezza24

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They look very much like sloes to me. Can't think of much else that would still have fruit on it this time of year.
 

paddyb2

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Thanks for your replies. Those of you that have gathered them before, can you remember if they had thorns on them?
 

Cheshire Cat

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The thorns are on the bush not the berries, be careful or wear a glove. It's a bit late as I picked mine in September. You'll find lots of recipes for sloe gin on line.
 

Clint

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Yes...I'm sure they had thorns. Bust one open it should be green inside and sour as hell!
 

johncrobinson

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sloes they are.

It reminds me of an incident a few years ago,I was out picking cherries for wine when a young boy approached and asked what i was doing.After telling him he informed me his mummy had told him he was not to eat berries he then said he had to go as his family were taking him to McDonald s for his birthday.

Maccy Ds the epitiomy of fine dining.OMG
 

Clint

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It's quite easy to poison yourself though..
 

johncrobinson

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Quite true clint.
Its called knowing what your doing of.It amazes me every year the amount of blackberry's that go to waste.In my youth these were used for making jam or even wine.

Some kids these days don't know a carrot grows in the ground.(according to surveys.).!!
 

paddyb2

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Thanks, there were no waste Blackberrys around my way, I put them in my cider! Will go and gather some Sloes tomorrow.
 

Clint

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I once heard some dopey mare saying how surprised she was at finding out potatoes grew underground and had a plant with flowers on top of them!
These people are allowed to drive and use sharp implements FFS!
 

JockyBrewer

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I think those are bullace, or some kind of hybrid. No thorns, and they look slightly larger than expected. They work the same as sloes though if you want to soak them in gin.
 

terrym

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All you need to know
 

Bettybeers

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There's a free app on play store called Plantnet. You take a photo of a berry/plant/flower and it identifies it for you (more or less). I found it useful when out and about with the kids, but could be useful for identifying future berries, though these sloes have been identified for you by the forum.
 

Cwrw666

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Are there different varieties without thorns?
We've got tons of sloe bushes and also bullace on our farm. Bullace berries are at least half an inch in diameter and when ripe are eddible although a bit on the sharp side. Sloes are more like a quarter of an inch in diameter and if you bite one it's like someone's sandpapered your mouth! Some of our sloe bushes have massive amounts of thorns on them but others hardly any at all.
I's say those pictured are this sort, and definitely sloes.
Not that it matters much - for sloe gin I always use a mixture of sloes and bullace. Takes ages to pick any quantity of sloes but no time at all to pick bullaces.
 

paddyb2

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Thanks for your replies.

I've picked a couple of punnets today and attached a pic along with some coins for scale.

Not a single thorn to be seen on any other bushes. They are big enough to be Bullace, or maybe a hybrid? When do Bullace ripen? They taste sour like unripe plums or gooseberries, just about edible at first, but they leave this dry coating on the mouth afterwards. I wonder if they would be more paletable if cooked? Maybe could try adding them to the fruity porridge I start every day, far to many on the bushes for gin!

Some are jet black, others have this blueish powder like coating. I gathered them in seperate containers. Is one or the other better than the other for gin?
 

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trummy

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If they taste astringent get busy! As stated above Sloes and Bullace. The coating you get on Damsons as well. I have made wine out of all three but only the Damsons in the last few years. Some has been very palatable but a lot has been very dry but does improve with age. I think now would be a good harvesting time for Bullace/ Sloes. For Gin why not split the Gin and do half and half?
With hedgerow fruits the final results do seem to vary one year to the next - I put it down to the seasons growing conditions but it maybe my lack of quality control.
 

paddyb2

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The ones pictured both came from the same bush btw. Not sure why some are black and some are blue/grey, they tend to grow in clumps of the same colour. Maybe one is riper than the other, but they both taste the same (yuk!)
 
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