Pricking,splitting or freezing?

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Sloe Oxon
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Joined: 06 Nov 2006, 15:22

Pricking,splitting or freezing?

Post by Sloe Oxon » 06 Nov 2006, 23:00

So what is the definitive method of making sure the flavour from the sloe goes into the gin.

I put my sloes in the freezer for a week to induce a splitting of the sloes to save the hassle of pricking. I can't say I noticed a change in the appearance of the sloes when I got them out of the freezer.......
Will my drink taste OK or should I have split the sloes or pricked them?

Blackthorn
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Re: Pricking,splitting or freezing?

Post by Blackthorn » 07 Nov 2006, 07:16

Sloe Oxon wrote:So what is the definitive method of making sure the flavour from the sloe goes into the gin...?
Just follow the very simple sloe.biz recipe :wink:
I put my sloes in the freezer for a week to induce a splitting of the sloes to save the hassle of pricking. I can't say I noticed a change in the appearance of the sloes when I got them out of the freezer.......
Will my drink taste OK or should I have split the sloes or pricked them?
Some people think freezing is worthwhile - mostly as a way of avoiding the tedium of pricking or cutting - but the end result should be the same.

Instead of putting your sloes in the freezer, for a week you could have bottled them with gin and sugar and been a week ahead by now! :wink:

Don't worry, your sloe gin will be great in two or three months :D
"There's no biz like sloe.biz"

spammeplease
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Post by spammeplease » 08 Nov 2006, 11:19

I prick them all and then freeze them, too. I've ended up with this technique after various comparative tests over the years. I found that this method gives me the most consistently rounded flavour and quality. It also fits into a schedule wherein I can process as many as I can pick in a manageable way. I freeze them in batches of 300gm on a greaseproof sheet over a small metal tray in the same way as I freeze other berries and then bag them up to make room for the next lot. Seemed like a lot of work at the time but is a happy memory now.

Sloe Oxon
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Post by Sloe Oxon » 08 Nov 2006, 13:05

So we really have no consensus then

Blackthorn says on one hand that putting them in the freezer instead of pricking should produce the same end result

He also says I shouldn't have bothered with the freezer as I will have to wait longer to start drinking!(but should I have pricked them first or does pricking make no difference)

Spammeplease suggests pricking and freezing - but the freezing seems to be his/her way of accumulating a sensible amount to put into production. Can't say I want to spend time with greaseproof paper, tags and metal trays!
Might I also suggest that Spammeplease comparative tests may be distorted by the variance in quality of sloes from year to year.

So the question is - is the incremental improvement from pricking worth the hassle as opposed to freezing?

spammeplease
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Post by spammeplease » 09 Nov 2006, 13:27

My tests were on 2 batches from the same picking session, and I did it from 3 different sessions. I've always pricked them all, but its only this year that I froze them all, too. Pricking doesn't bother me, it takes half an hour for a batch, but I get to see every single berry. I discard ALL manky, squishy or hard berries and I think that this is the key to good quality end product. However, I have access to more sloes than I can deal with, so its not a problem.

sloeber
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Post by sloeber » 10 Nov 2006, 08:50

My opinion on the subject is this.
As long as the sloes are ripe just simply wash them and then prick them several times. If you wait untill first frosts i would do exactly the same why try to falsify nature. I personally do not believe in freezing sloes and i dont think there is any benefits at all.
But these are only my opinions which is what this forum is all about and good luck which ever route you take.

deadsloeandstop
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Post by deadsloeandstop » 10 Nov 2006, 09:39

sloeber wrote: If you wait untill first frosts i would do exactly the same why try to falsify nature.
I agree :D It is very unlikely that anyone in the UK has a frost long enough or cold enough to split the berries...

spammeplease
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Post by spammeplease » 10 Nov 2006, 14:38

I met a lady whilst out picking this year who asked me what I mashed them up with. Her preferred method was to stick them in a carrier bag and give them a thorough seeing-to with a rolling pin. I've not tried this myself, but do report back if you give it a go.

Sloe Oxon
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Post by Sloe Oxon » 10 Nov 2006, 21:27

sloeber wrote:My opinion on the subject is this.
As long as the sloes are ripe just simply wash them and then prick them several times. If you wait untill first frosts i would do exactly the same why try to falsify nature. I personally do not believe in freezing sloes and i dont think there is any benefits at all.
But these are only my opinions which is what this forum is all about and good luck which ever route you take.
I think you are missing the point on this:

The tradition of "picking after the first frost" is merely a timing mechanism to estimate when the sloes are likely to be ripe. The effect of the first frost's "freezing effect" on the berries is irrelevant as it may only be a degree or two - this is borne out in other threads and is backed up by Blackthorn.

The process of bagging up berries and putting them in the freezer for a week or so, is to induce a "splitting" that negates the need for the tedious process of pricking!

TillyBoo
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Post by TillyBoo » 12 Nov 2006, 16:01

The best results Ive ever had, is freezing the sloes, letting them defrost and then pricking/slitting them.

The results are incomparable to the other lots Ive done.

Sloe coach
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Location: Bocholt, Germany

is the flavour improved by sub-zero temperatures?

Post by Sloe coach » 13 Nov 2006, 09:08

I think that this is a topic without a true right wong answer. But nevertheless here is my contribution.
My mother and hers before her has always waited for the first frost, although the reason, I suspect, has been so deeply buried by the passage of time that they have quite forgotton why. They just do it like that and they always have and they don't want to change. And I suppose I was doing the same thing.

Then I made the short hop across the Puddle to an area of Germany where the local inhabitants sincerely hope that the Rhine doesn't rise any higher and we are still awaiting the first frost. Here it is deeply ingrained that the frost is vital for the use of sloes (Schlehe(n)). But for the last 3-4 years, the frosts have been getting later and later, so the impatient producers of sloe schnaps, sloe jelly, sloe this, that and everything else have taken to collecting them before the blackbirds in mid October. I accosted a woman in the act, with 2 5 litre buckets full of sloes. She said she was going to put them into her (obviously very large) freezer. It was necessary, she said, because of the tannins. Although what was supposed to happen to the tannins was unclear. I think this is another case of "doing it like this because we always have done, it works and therefore there is no need to question it".

Somebody else told me that the low temperatures cause the starch to be converted to sugar. Does anybody know if there is any truth in that?

Anyway, since I've been here, I've never waited for the first frost, because by then there are none left, I've never put them in the freezer and my sloe gin tastes just as good as it always did. I'm inclined to think its an old wives tale and the sloes just have to be ripe. As the lady with the buckets has moved away, I was able to pick another batch on Saturday.

ros

kmmy
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Post by kmmy » 14 Nov 2006, 18:25

Hi,

Just started decanting our first 4 litres of gin, they are in my opinion tasting great! ( only our first year ). My husband went a bit crazy with his picking and we ran out of gin so I have frozen 3 large sandwich bags. They have been in there about a month now. What I want to know is, how long can they stay in the freezer?? I was hoping to keep them there until about February so we don't get a gap in our supply!
Any thoughts would be gratefully received.

Happy drinking to you all!
Kmmy x :wink:

Sloe coach
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Location: Bocholt, Germany

Storing them in the freezer

Post by Sloe coach » 14 Nov 2006, 21:07

Well, I would say that you could keep them in there for as long as you like. I spose it depends on your freezer. If it can be set to -18°, they should easily keep until next years sloe's are ready to pick. And as for having a gap in your supplies - well you could always go out and buy a few more bottles of cheap gin and sugar and just make more! Then I suppose there is the temptation to drink more of it. I would suggest to make it all and then store it in a quiet dark corner of a garage or shed until your current supplies are almost exhausted, thereby giving everyone a very pleasant surprise when winter is almost over but not quite.

ros

sloe man
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Post by sloe man » 23 Nov 2006, 09:42

I would have thought if berries split in the freezer then a certain amount of ice/water would find it's way into the berries, thereby slightly diluting the product. however this is just a guess, and even if true may be no bad thing as some people say adding water produces a smoother end product. As it's my first attempt this year, i went with the site's method - pick/prick/bottle.

cheers!
Andy

PJBlaze
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Post by PJBlaze » 25 Aug 2007, 06:29

Wouldn't the freezing process have a similar effect that occurs with wine grapes. The reference to German sloes made me realize the comparison with late harvest wines. These grapes are left on long enough to become raisins in some cases and one of the by products of this late harvest/freezing is the removal of water from the fruit and concentrate the sugars in addition to the natural sugars already there from te long vine time. Whether frozen at home or in the field, the effects should be the same. However, picking time will vary greatly the amount of sugars. Can a brix testing be done to measure sugar levels?

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