It’s not all about the whiskey

SloesI amused myself a couple of autumns ago by introducing Art to sloes.  I did warn him, to be fair, and he’s game to try most things, so I got to enjoy a re-enactment of my own wretched fascination.  He tried one again 20 minutes later just to see if it really was as bad as he remembered, and declared it was.    As far as I’m concerned they remove all traces of moisture in one’s mouth in a split second.  My older palate, however, has come to learn and appreciate why things like sloe gin are popular, so I’m a little intrigued at mention that medieval Irish folk made a sloe wine.  The method seems to have been to mush sloe berries then boil them in water, leave to stand uncovered for one day, then add honey.  Seal the mixture into an airtight container and bury for 6 weeks in the ground, strain before serving.

I’m guessing that sometimes a little alcoholic sloe was added to Metheglins (spiced meads) as well, I can see that it could work with the other traditionally Irish favourites of  thyme, rosemary and sweet briar.   I’ve become really interested in Metheglins since I’ve realised that Norman influences open a treasure trove of spices to experiment with.

I’ve also come across Nenadmim which seems to be a crab apple cider/metheglin that makes me wonder if my ornamental crab tree, currently looking fabulous, would be any use at all.  I know of a wild crab anyway, so I might take a wander that way, see if there’s anything to find.  I suspect I’ve left it too late.   It’s funny how things I associate with my childhood (crab apples and quinces for example) are starting to reappear.    Speaking of which, I see cordials, long associated with grandparents and Anne of Green Gables, are not quite what I thought they were.  They involve more alcohol for one thing.  I’ve also decided I *have* to try making a selection, but I will write about that when I have experimented I think.


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