After the first hard frost it is sloe picking time. They grow on blackthorns – easy to spot because they grow the same size as hawthorns but with oval leaves and really quite ferociously long thorns. They aren’t as ubiquitous as hawthorns, but most country walks in East Anglia are likely to throw up several.
The ripe berries are beautiful on a sunny autumn afternoon
It didn’t take long for us to collect a whole bowl, leaving plenty of less accessible berries for the birds. Then spit spot back home, and we put them in the freezer overnight to simulate a hard frost – we’ve only had a couple of light ones so far. Apparently you can make sloe jam or eat them fresh fresh from the tree, but we saved all ours for infusing in gin – find the method in good old wikipedia. It should be ready in time for christmas. An extra tip is when you have drunk the gin, try infusing the leftover berries in sherry. I haven’t tried this yet but it sounds lovely.