Sloes are small, green-fleshed, inky-skinned, wild plums that are the fruit of the Blackthorn. They are in the same family as plums and cherries. Sloes are bitter to eat raw, but once cooked they have an intense plum taste, and can be flavoured with orange zest, cloves, cinnamon or almond essence. Other ways of using them are preserved as sloe gin, sloe wine, sloe jelly, sloe syrup, and sloe plum cheese.
The number of sloes you will find on a blackthorn bush or tree each year is linked to the weather during the previous spring and summer. Too dry and the sloes will be small and shriveled. Too wet and cold and they will not develop at all. A good crop of plump, well-ripened sloes needs the perfect balance of warmth and water.
Magical properties of sloes –
Protection, exorcism, divination, healing, dispels negativity, Crone magic, death and rebirth, transformation, shadow work, combating fear, depression, anger.
Planet: Mars, Saturn
Element: Earth, Fire
Zodiac: Aries, Scorpio
Symbolism: The balance between light and darkness.
Stone: Black Opal, Agate, Bloodstone
Colours: Purple, Black, Red
Folk Names: Sloe, Sloe Plum, Wishing Thorn, Faery Tree
I wanted to try something different with the glut of sloes we have this year. My friend Ness kindly shared her recipe booklet and viola! sloe jam (although in the booklet it is called Sloe Cheese).
Ingredients for Sloe Jam:
Place the sloes in a preserving pan, add just sufficient water to cover them.
Heat gently for 2 hours, pressing the fruits with the back of a spoon or a potato masher in the later stages to break them open.
Place a colander over a large bowl and pour the contents of the preserving pan through it, rubbing the fruits around to allow the juice and flesh to pass through, whilst retaining the stones.
Discard the stones.
Weigh the liquid then return it to the preserving pan
Add the same weight of sugar to the pan (for example 1kg of juice add 1kg of sugar)
Heat gently whilst stirring well to dissolve all the sugar.
Bring to the boil and boil hard until setting point is reached.
Pour into pre-heated and sterilized jars.
If the sloes are frozen beforehand or have been picked after the first frost, they become less tart, and break down more easily when heated.
A Kitchen Witch's World of Magical Plants & Herbs by Rachel Patterson
Little Book of Sloe Recipes