Prunus Spinosa

Botanical illustration prunus spinosa

I think I’ve missed the the sloe berries – in the very year when I’d resolved to make some sloe vodka for Christmas.

We went yesterday to the wildest local park, to see if we could find any blackthorn bushes. In my imaginings of this trip, there were bushes dripping with sloes – black-blue like blueberries, but sour, bitter, almost inedible. That’s why you have to pickle them in gin or vodka or some such. Add sugar, and intermittent shaking of the bottle for a few patient months, and you end up with something very delicious.

But despite us plunging into the deepest depths of the bushes, getting covered in twigs and nettle stings and grass seed, there was nothing. We found a scant few berries hanging despondently from a withered stalk with yellow leaves, and that was it. I gathered them anyway, but five or six wrinkled sloe berries rolling around in the bottom of a plastic yoghurt pot was a sorry sight.

I can’t believe it! I was dreaming of curling up in my pyjamas after a hot bath, warm by the crackling open fire on Christmas eve, sipping some sharp and sweet warming vodka. And no doubt feeling all smug and happy and domesticated – and getting pink cheeks from the alcohol.

Maybe I’m too early – maybe they’re not ready yet – or maybe those bushes we found were hopeless specimens. Maybe we went to the wrong park altogether.

I fear this is going to bug me and turn into an eternal quest!

Let me know if you know where any good blackthorn bushes are.


PS: The blackberries have been great this year, though. We’ve had buckets of them, picked from the undergrowth in Woodland Gardens, and I am beginning to look like an apple and blackberry crumble. Custard or cream?*



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