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Sloes leftover from Gin at Christmas
Thu 25-Feb-10
8:26 pm
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brightspark
Wilts

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Now you mention it, TA, I haven't either.

Probably too time-consuming - and prickly - for sloe-producing orchards!!

We absolutely adore damsons - and we found a place that had both - we also seemed to be the only takers .....

don't tell anyone (Don't tell!)

"How do you spell 'Love'?" (Piglet). 

"You don't spell it, you feel it" (Pooh).

 'A hug,' said Pooh 'is always the right size!' 

Sat 27-Feb-10
9:35 pm
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Vagabondic
Bucks

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Various people used to sell sloes on ebay when in season.

The trick with sloes is to remember where the bushes are when they come into flower - Blackthorn Winter - normally late March or so, before Hawthorn. Then hope you don't have some idiot farmer who flails his hedges early.

Sloes themselves are very very small so you have to look hard to see them as they lie close to the wood on the tree,  once you've worked out what they look like there are normally lots on each bush.

We also have a number of trees with a small fruit about halfway beyween a sloe and a damson, presume it is some form of wild plum or bullace - the trees are larger than a blackthorn or damson tree. They don't make good sloe gin but do make very good country wine.

An easy bought alternative to sloe or damson gin is blueberry gin if you get them on spesh in the supermarket, but they don't need any sugar.

Wed 3-Mar-10
9:11 pm
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Sarah-J
North Yorkshire

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Just for info: The Hedgecutting season begins 1st August and ends at the end of February. Most sloe pickers prefer to wait until after the first frost however we got ours in before then (around September/October at the lastest).

Roadside Hedgecutting is usually left until after Christmas as it is priority to get the insides done first before the bad weather and so crops can be planted.

We are very lucky in that we can harvest the fruits of these hedges, however they do belong to the 'idiot' farmers and the very existence of them is to provide boudaries between land and to keep stock in.Steam

(Other half is a hedgecutting contractor and gets so much grief off the public most days for carrying out a job which has been carried out for years).

Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox & find some sloe gin, I'm sure there was a bottle around here somewhere..Wine

Wed 3-Mar-10
9:51 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Good tips, Vagabondic and Sarah-J. We must try blueberry gin next year. We have a smallish bush in front of the house that we net off from the birds (but I can get in! Yum).

Sarah - I never realised that "inside" and "outside" trimming had different timetables. Luckily we live in race horse country, so the bushes are usually only trimmed very late in the year, and not every year.

Fiona used to mark the location of the various wild fruit bearing bushes in springtime as she drove to her jobs in different locations. We had a bumper harvest last fall but it was saddening to be plucking the fruit while trampling on a deep carpet of windfalls. Next year we will start earlier, although this winter's snow and cold will undoubtedly have an impact on yields and ripening times.

Never knowingly underfed

Wed 3-Mar-10
11:19 pm
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Vagabondic
Bucks

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Is there any old country lore about cold weather over winter affecting yields, obviously late frosts killing the blossom will  do for a crop completely and it seems to hit our plums more than other fruit but there always seem to be be sloes so maybe theyare more hardy.

Thu 4-Mar-10
7:54 pm
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KateUK
uk

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Fruit trees need cold weather for at least 5 weeks to fruit well. So a cold winter can be very good for fruit the next year- as long as the blossom doesn't get frosted.

Kateuk makes things at http://www.etsy.com/shop/finkstuff and sometimes she does this too http://www54paintings.blogspot.com/ and also this http://finkstuff.weebly.com/

Fri 5-Mar-10
8:34 am
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Blueberries don't grow on bushes Danny, well not big bushes are you confusing them with blackcurrants? WhistleWe have blueberries in our forest and they grow in the damp areas on very small bushes close to the ground about the size of a strawberry plant. Either that or I'm getting confused with the namesDoh Bilberries might work and you can find them out on the moors in some places

Fri 5-Mar-10
9:16 am
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devongarden
Devon, UK

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Joanna, blueberries do grow on bushes--I have 3 in pots in my garden! Smile The ones in your forest are either a very small species, a different plant, or name confusion. Bilberries are the wild version, and there are lots of names for it in different parts of the UK. Cultivated blueberries are much larger than the wild ones, and often don't have much taste compared to the wild ones. Frown

I am not sure I'd use them in gin--blueberry muffins, in fruit salad, or straight from the garden are more likely uses for me.

Fri 5-Mar-10
9:25 am
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JoannaS
Latvia

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So do you actually get blueberries in the wild in Britain Barbara? Tea It could be that the plants we have are a totally different variety since I live in LatviaCheers

Fri 5-Mar-10
9:42 am
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devongarden
Devon, UK

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Bilberries, whinberries, etc are all similar if not identical species. (The big book to look them up is in the other room, so I can't say for sure!) Blueberries are cultivated varieties--I don't know if they are botanically the same species. Joanna, I was taking into account that you are in Latvia-if they taste the same they are probably the same genus, or else it is convergent evolution Laugh

Fri 5-Mar-10
9:46 am
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Love it Barbara! Cheers

Fri 5-Mar-10
10:23 am
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KateUK
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Bilberries,whortle berries, cranberries,cowberries etc are all members of the 'vaccinium' family. The Blueberry ( vaccinum corymbosum) bushes available for home growing have been developed from wild plant parents,not native to the UK, but they can be grown here in the right acidic conditions, there are short varieties and tall ones (3ft+). No Blueberries native here, but the other berries are, though in specialised conditions - some of them now quite rare.

Kateuk makes things at http://www.etsy.com/shop/finkstuff and sometimes she does this too http://www54paintings.blogspot.com/ and also this http://finkstuff.weebly.com/

Fri 5-Mar-10
9:53 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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JoannaS said:Blueberries don't grow on bushes Danny, well not big bushes are you confusing them with blackcurrants? Whistle


LOL Laugh

4 stars and suddenly suggesting I am colour blind Big_Laugh

No worries, Joanna. My dad grew 3 acres of blackcurrants once upon a time to supply the now defunct local Ribena factory. That was back in the '60s.

Our blueberry bush must surely be a cultivated one, as Barbara suggested, but the berries are really flavoursome. Back home in West Cork, we treasured billberries a kids. Sort of heather-height plants with tiny dark blue berries, that grew on poor land or bogland. We called them "hurts".

Never knowingly underfed

Sat 6-Mar-10
12:32 pm
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Toffeeapple
North Bucks

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In my part of Wales we called them Wimberries.  Oh the joy of finding those berries, such a tart flavour.  We children would always come home with purple hands and mouths.  My Mum used to make a wicked pie with them.

I'll try that again!

Sun 7-Mar-10
8:56 am
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Oh yes hadn't noticed the StarStarStarStar too busy getting through all the replies.

Now I am a little less confused, having seen the real things growing in the forest I wondered how you could actually get something that could actually be considered a bush out of it, now I know.

I have some wonderful pictures of each of our kids after bilberry pie, my Mum used to bring them across as she lives up on the moors in Lancashire.

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