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SLOE GIN FOR CHRISTMAS
In August, the fruits are well formed but partially hidden by the dense leaves all around. Note the characteristic 'bloom' on the sloes. Avoid the temptation to pick in August as these notoriously bitter little berries need as much time as possible to fully ripen (hence the folklore about picking 'after the first frosts').
By the time the sloes are ready for picking, the branches will once again be bare of leaves, and the clumps of sloes will stand-out clearly against the sky. Picking late, in October or November, means the sloes will reach their maximum ripeness - and flavour.
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