Further to last week’s post on making sloe vodka, here are some actual sloes, growing by the river in my local park. They’re very common in hedgerows and woodland, although in cities you may have to hunt around for parks and commons that are more of the wild type rather than the neat and tidy municipal kind.
Sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn (prunus spinosa), one of the first hedgerow shrubs to blossom in spring. These ones flowered in March, when we were enjoying a warm, dry start to the year and so have fruited quite well. Meanwhile in my garden, my Victoria plum tree that flowered after the deluge summer began, and I haven’t had a single fruit. Sloes look a bit like blueberries, often with the same bluish bloom on the otherwise black fruits. They vary in size from pea to small grape. As with all foraged fruit, never completely strip a bush, leave some for the birds.