As the nights draw in and the temperatures begin to drop, the promise of picking sloes from the hedgerows to transform into a deep mid-winter treat can set the spirits soaring. The first thing you’ll have to do, though, is find a Blackthorn tree – and if you’re not confident, please do some research. You really don’t want to end up with Deadly Nightshade gin by mistake! I picked mine in deepest, darkest Dorset with all the family, kids and dogs in tow (there’s nothing quite like a bit of child labour after all!), but if you can’t find them in the wild you should be able to pick them up at a market or even online.
Rejoice, it’s elderflower season! Or it would be at least if it ever stopped raining. For the one time you don’t want to be picking elderflowers is when they are wet. But, assuming you can find a dry day or two, make sure you get out and pick some fragrant elderflower (ideally just as the buds are beginning to open) because it complements many gins wonderfully. You can make a cordial or gin (as below) but make sure you get working as quickly as possible as the elderflowers will start to turn brown within just a few hours of picking.