Almost every year for the last 20 years or so we've collected sloes from the hedgerows to make sloe gin, a delicious liqueur made from these attractive free fruit, sugar and gin. Last year we found a wonderful crop at Ploumanac'h on a lane leading to the coastal path where the air is very clean as there's no motor traffic. We returned the next day armed with bags and gloves to protect our hands from the lethal spines that hide on the stems. We met a few of the locals who were curious as to what we did with these inedible berries and who were soon convinced to return and collect their own!
I put the sloes in the freezer for 24 hours to replicate the normal process of waiting for the first frost before picking as we rarely get frost in our corner of Brittany. I then put 250 grammes of sloes with 170 grammes of white sugar in a 75 centilitre bottle and topped up with gin. With 4 70 cl bottles of gin I have produced 4 litres of liqueur after leaving it for 6 months in a cool dark place. It needs shaking for the first few weeks to dissolve the sugar but then it's best to let it stand so that it clears.
I used part of my sketch to make the labels for the bottles, some of which will be given as gifts to family members and eventually we'll drink some too but it'll probably take a couple of years! In fact it improves with age and is a nice after dinner drink for guests when you explain how it's made.