(over)pricking sloes?

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bugbear
Posts: 34
Joined: 04 Jan 2010, 09:53

(over)pricking sloes?

Post by bugbear » 04 Jan 2010, 11:41

I made my first sloe gin this year. Being of an impatient bent (and being a bit of a shed/workshop dabbler) I didn't prick the sloes by hand.

I made a "spiky bit of wood" (tm):

Image

The spikes (after experimentation) protrude by roughly 2.5 mm.

It didn't work quite as envisaged, since sloes vary in size; however, I found the following procedure was effective:

* put a batch of sloes on one side of a board
* pass your hand over them, thus moving the (uniformly) largest sloes to the otherside of the board
* rub the sloes with the "spiky bit of wood"
* repeat (with gradually smaller sloes) until batch is done

This is MUCH quicker than using a needle, and (in practice) pricks the sloes more.

Now, a friend also makes sloe gin (and has for many years). I have one bottle from her. The bottle from her (after experimental tasting over new year) was far more "ginny", and much less fruity than mine. Both batches were made at the roughly the same time, and (by coincidence) from the same gin (Morrisons's own brand).

So the question: have I discovered a wonderful way of accelerating the sloe gin process, or have I committed a well known error - is slow-made-sloe-gin better?

BugBear
Last edited by bugbear on 06 Jan 2010, 15:09, edited 1 time in total.

spammeplease
Posts: 162
Joined: 07 Nov 2006, 16:39
Location: Stroud, UK

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by spammeplease » 06 Jan 2010, 09:45

It looks good to me, and could help out with what is probably, for most people, the slowest and least interesting part of the process. It sounds like you can also vary the pressure with your 'hand-moving' technique. And after the season, you have a handy seat for some yogic meditation :shock: Did you hammer the nails all the way through or do something more clever?

Pricking them is just about bearable for me. I use a fork, prick them in 300g batches about 6-8 times each, and then freeze and bag each batch. I try to organise my processing so that I pick about 600g to 1500g (30 mins to 1 hr) as that is a handy amount to have ready to prick and is easily do-able after work without the dog getting too bored. I prick up to 3 batches at a time (20 - 30 mins each, usually whilst listening to football on the radio) which is about all I can take in a session and I can only fit 3 trays into the freezer at once. I make up 5 batches at a time from frozen sloes. I then leave the batches macerating for up to 6 months before bottling, and leave it to bottle mature for anything from 0.1 second to 7 years (so far).

The pricking is thus the second most time-consuming part up to bottling, and your Spiky Bit of Wood could mean the Sloe Gin would be ready 15 minutes earlier!

bugbear
Posts: 34
Joined: 04 Jan 2010, 09:53

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by bugbear » 06 Jan 2010, 10:26

spammeplease wrote:It looks good to me, and could help out with what is probably, for most people, the slowest and least interesting part of the process. It sounds like you can also vary the pressure with your 'hand-moving' technique. And after the season, you have a handy seat for some yogic meditation :shock: Did you hammer the nails all the way through or do something more clever?
More clever.

I clipped off dressmaker's pins to around 12 mm long, then used a whole pin (in pliers) to make pilot holes in the wood.
The clipped off pins were the pushed into the pilot holes backwards (using pliers).

Here comes the clever bit. A custom made pin pusher was used to set each pin to the same depth.

Image

The pin pusher was a brass screw; the head was sawn off, and a small hole drilled down. Having made a hole in the end of a piece of wood, and run a "whole" screw into it, the special screw was held in the vise, and the handle screwed onto it. The depth to which the pins are set was adjusted very accurately by simply filing away the screw (the initial hole was deliberately made too deep).
Pricking them is just about bearable for me. I use a fork, prick them in 300g batches about 6-8 times each, and then freeze and bag each batch. I try to organise my processing so that I pick about 600g to 1500g (30 mins to 1 hr) as that is a handy amount to have ready to prick and is easily do-able after work without the dog getting too bored. I prick up to 3 batches at a time (20 - 30 mins each, usually whilst listening to football on the radio) which is about all I can take in a session and I can only fit 3 trays into the freezer at once. I make up 5 batches at a time from frozen sloes. I then leave the batches macerating for up to 6 months before bottling, and leave it to bottle mature for anything from 0.1 second to 7 years (so far).

The pricking is thus the second most time-consuming part up to bottling, and your Spiky Bit of Wood could mean the Sloe Gin would be ready 15 minutes earlier!
I think (from memory) I pricked the sloes for 7 70cl bottles in around 40 minutes.

BugBear

spammeplease
Posts: 162
Joined: 07 Nov 2006, 16:39
Location: Stroud, UK

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by spammeplease » 06 Jan 2010, 15:06

So the whole enterprise would take me a year or so..... I guess this gives you even more enjoyment from making sloe gin, which is the point, after all. Perhaps you and Shrew321 should get together and start marketing this sort of stuff, I 'd probably have one, it would beat the wallpaper spiker I once got to experiment with!

shrew321
Posts: 25
Joined: 20 Oct 2009, 10:37

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by shrew321 » 09 Jan 2010, 11:11

Hi Bugbear and Spammeplease,

I like the look of the 'spiky bit of wood' (tm). If you can do it in say polished (sustainable) hard wood with the spikes all perfectly lined up, you may have something here if you add some fancy packaging and instructions on posh paper, especially as it's genuinely 'hand made in UK'. Maybe even get it in Harrods or Aspinals of London for next season. Anyone out there got any contacts at these stores?

Regards

Shrew

bugbear
Posts: 34
Joined: 04 Jan 2010, 09:53

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by bugbear » 11 Jan 2010, 08:56

shrew321 wrote:Hi Bugbear and Spammeplease,

I like the look of the 'spiky bit of wood' (tm). If you can do it in say polished (sustainable) hard wood with the spikes all perfectly lined up, you may have something here if you add some fancy packaging and instructions on posh paper, especially as it's genuinely 'hand made in UK'. Maybe even get it in Harrods or Aspinals of London for next season. Anyone out there got any contacts at these stores?

Regards

Shrew
A second one would be much quicker to make, since I now have the pin-pusher made (making that, and finding the right pin depth took a while).

Using a harder wood would be difficult, since the pins are simply pushed in - the wood I used was quite carefully chosen to hold the pins firmly (enough) but be easy(enough) to push into.

I suspect a second one would still take 30 mins to make though, so making a profit would be hard!

BugBear

libspero
Posts: 6
Joined: 20 Sep 2009, 18:41

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by libspero » 16 Jan 2010, 23:49

Looks like a good idea if you have the patience to build it :D

I'm too lazy for all of that and just slit them with a sharp kitchen knife.. mind you, I do like your automation idea.

I wonder if you can wizz them in a blender.. :mrgreen:

nitsua
Posts: 20
Joined: 03 Oct 2009, 14:52
Location: Northern Ireland

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by nitsua » 17 Jan 2010, 23:42

Suppose you could blend them, but then you couldn't cover the gin-soaked sloes with chocolate when your sloe gin is ready. Bad idea I reckon. :wink:

Eileen

bugbear
Posts: 34
Joined: 04 Jan 2010, 09:53

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by bugbear » 20 Jan 2010, 09:19

I would guess the factory made sloe gin is made by blitzing the sloes, standing/steeping, then using powerful filtering techniques.

That would seem both fast and thorough.

BugBear

katebak
Posts: 22
Joined: 25 Dec 2007, 22:18

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by katebak » 06 Sep 2010, 21:56

bugbear wrote:I made my first sloe gin this year. Being of an impatient bent (and being a bit of a shed/workshop dabbler) I didn't prick the sloes by hand.

I made a "spiky bit of wood" (tm):

Image

The spikes (after experimentation) protrude by roughly 2.5 mm.

It didn't work quite as envisaged, since sloes vary in size; however, I found the following procedure was effective:

* put a batch of sloes on one side of a board
* pass your hand over them, thus moving the (uniformly) largest sloes to the otherside of the board
* rub the sloes with the "spiky bit of wood"
* repeat (with gradually smaller sloes) until batch is done

is MUCH quicker than using a needle, and (in practice) pricks the sloes more.

Now, a friend also makes sloe gin (and has for many years). I have one bottle from her. The bottle from her (after experimental tasting over new year) was far more "ginny", and much less fruity than mine. Both batches were made at the roughly the same time, and (by coincidence) from the same gin (Morrisons's own brand).

So the question: have I discovered a wonderful way of accelerating the sloe gin process, or have I committed a well known error - is slow-made-sloe-gin better?

BugBear
:lol: Looks too much like hard work to me!!! Try freezing them. Add sugar and gin to frozen sloes, and give it a good shake couple of times a day for about three weeks. As the sloes thaw, their skins split. Take it easy on yourself.!!! :lol:

bugbear
Posts: 34
Joined: 04 Jan 2010, 09:53

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by bugbear » 07 Sep 2010, 08:44

katebak wrote: :lol: Looks too much like hard work to me!!! Try freezing them. Add sugar and gin to frozen sloes, and give it a good shake couple of times a day for about three weeks. As the sloes thaw, their skins split. Take it easy on yourself.!!! :lol:
I'd heard of that technique, but several people advise against it.

BugBear

peter1
Posts: 8
Joined: 03 Sep 2010, 09:52

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by peter1 » 07 Sep 2010, 10:01

most of the ways i have tried are very tedious indeed. now it takes but a few minutes. stick them in a juicer or food processer. it also makes it easier to measure, and to get into and out of the containers.

bugbear
Posts: 34
Joined: 04 Jan 2010, 09:53

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by bugbear » 07 Sep 2010, 10:09

peter1 wrote:most of the ways i have tried are very tedious indeed. now it takes but a few minutes. stick them in a juicer or food processer. it also makes it easier to measure, and to get into and out of the containers.
I'd assumed that how industry (e.g. Gordon's) made sloe gin. It must make the flavour extraction as fast and thorough as possible.

How do you separate the juiced pulp from the gin when it's finished?

BugBear

peter1
Posts: 8
Joined: 03 Sep 2010, 09:52

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by peter1 » 07 Sep 2010, 10:16

i just use all the pulp, the pulp is still needed to infuse with the alcohol and sugar. then use the same process of syphoning or use a coffe filter as you would normally decant

bugbear
Posts: 34
Joined: 04 Jan 2010, 09:53

Re: (over)pricking sloes?

Post by bugbear » 07 Sep 2010, 10:22

peter1 wrote:i just use all the pulp, the pulp is still needed to infuse with the alcohol and sugar. then use the same process of syphoning or use a coffe filter as you would normally decant
With pricked sloes (last year) I simply poured the finished sloe gin out of the bottle into another bottle, leaving the fruit behind.

No filtering or even syphon was needed.

Another question - I know that some people feel that leaving the gin on the fruit for too long extracts undesirable flavour notes from the kernels. Did your juicer break the kernels, or leave them whole?

BugBear

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