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Why does my sloe jelly taste so AWFUL?!

(21 Posts)
Medievalist Sun 08-Nov-20 16:40:52

I cooked the sloes until they were mush. I put plenty sugar in. Result is a beautiful ruby coloured clear jelly with a really nice taste ... at first. And then all the moisture is stripped from my mouth and a horrible bitter after taste develops. Pretty much the same reaction as if you put a fresh sloe in your mouth.

Does anyone know why this happened? And if there is anything I can do to rescue the jelly? I don't think more sugar would help. confused

OP’s posts: |
ifigoup Sun 08-Nov-20 16:42:59

Where did you get the sloes from and how has the weather been? According to Flower Fairies of the Autumn, sloes will set your teeth on edge until they’ve been mellowed by frost.

Ifailed Sun 08-Nov-20 16:44:04

I can only suggest you heat up a small amount with some extra sugar (weigh both) until the sugar dissolves, let it set and try it again.

pinkbalconyrailing Sun 08-Nov-20 16:45:58

that happens if the sloes didn't have frost.
you either need to freeze them before processing or pick after the first frost.
don't know if you can salvage your concoction.

cameocat Sun 08-Nov-20 16:46:40

Did you freeze them first? Sloes need to be picked after a frost which we haven't really had in my area. You can freeze them instead which has same effect.

Medievalist Sun 08-Nov-20 16:53:38

No I didn't freeze them. I read somewhere that you didn't really need to do that and that the first frost thing is just meant to be an indicator of the time of year to pick - ie that by the time you've had a first frost sloes should be ready to pick.

However, we did have temps down to 1 degree last week so presumably that would have had the same effect as freezing? and the sloes seemed very ripe.

Have made sloe gin before and it's never been bitter like that

OP’s posts: |
Medievalist Sun 08-Nov-20 16:55:54

Have just googled and freezing does reduce tannins and astringents so obviously that is where I went wrong ....

OP’s posts: |
BlueChampagne Fri 13-Nov-20 16:21:35

Climate change, I'm afraid ... used to pick them frosted in early Oct.

Ifailed Fri 13-Nov-20 17:29:16

I don't bother waiting for a first frost, we've yet to have one and the sloes are starting to shrivel up.
I picked mine in september and bunged them in the freezer overnight.

Imtoooldforallthis Sat 14-Nov-20 15:14:14

Is it worth freezing the jelly!?

Medievalist Sat 14-Nov-20 21:04:16

I threw last week's jelly away. Picked a small amount of sloes to have another go this weekend. Put the sloes in the freezer for 24 hours. Followed a different recipe.

Same result. I didn't go beyond the stage of having melted the sugar this time - just tasted the liquid. Nice taste initially and then that horrible bitter astringent taste.

No more cooking with sloes for me. Thankfully the 2 jars of sloe gin I've got on the go taste fine (and I didn't freeze the sloes first)


OP’s posts: |
Weedsnseeds1 Sat 14-Nov-20 21:14:03

You need to mix the sloes (ditto rowan berries, rosehip, elderberries etc) with apple - crab apples, cookers, even dessert apples. This dilutes the astringent of the fruit and helps you get a set without having to boil all the water out (lots of pectin in apples). Sloe gin doesn't taste so bitter as the alcohol dentures the tannins and you have a lot more liquid by volume.
Mix apple and sloes (proportions not critical), cover with water, simmer until mushy, strain overnight through muslin (or tea towel, pillowcase etc) then 1lb sugar to 1 pint juice (or 1kg to 1 litre, basically equal proportions). Boil really hard, you want it seething up the pan, so use a big pan. Once it passes the wrinkle test, hot fill into clean, warm jars.

Medievalist Sat 14-Nov-20 21:33:50

Hi Weeds - I used equal weights of sloes today, and I think more apple last time. Simmered until completely mushy, strained through muslin and used the ratio of sugar to liquid you suggested.

I did use jam sugar which I've never used before but I don't suppose that would have affected the taste.

OP’s posts: |
Weedsnseeds1 Sun 15-Nov-20 10:17:45

No, jam sugar won't make a difference, it's just got a bit of pectin in it.

Ifailed Sun 15-Nov-20 10:24:33

This does sound odd, of course sloes are very sour, but I've never noted an acidic note. Not questioning your horticultural knowledge, but are you sure these are sloes, and did you collect them from the same bushes last time?

Medievalist Sun 15-Nov-20 12:17:18

Maybe acidic is the wrong word. Definitely tannin/bitter and that mouth moisture sucking quality.

I'm no horticulturalist believe me! It has crossed my mind that maybe they're not sloes. Thought they do look like them and I'm not sure what else they could be? I've made sloe gin from sloes in our garden which I picked a month or two ago. The ones I've tried turning into jelly are from a nearby field. I was surprised to see so many ripe looking ones as those in our garden have long since shrivelled away.
The trees in the field didn't have many leaves left but the branches were covered in lichen. Not sure if that's relevant?

Think I'll try some marmalade next!

OP’s posts: |
SoupDragon Sun 15-Nov-20 12:22:07

There is something else that looks very much like sloes - I googled them a month back as I saw bushes full of them on a dog walk. I don't think mine were sloes as the were no thorns (plus some subtle leaf differences)

ProfYaffle Sun 15-Nov-20 12:32:53

That's just sloes. They're full of tanin and will do that mouth stripping thing. You need to up the amount of apple. I've had success with around 75% apple, 25% sloe with a generous glug of port.

SoupDragon's right though, there are purple bullace which are very similar to sloes but not as astringent. they're much easier to cook with.

ProfYaffle Sun 15-Nov-20 12:34:18

Bullace tend to ripen much earlier than sloes. If they're still on the tree now they're probably sloes. The definitive thing is that sloes grow on blackthorn which was massive thorns. Bullace have no thorns.

Silverstreaks Wed 18-Nov-20 13:52:36

I'm really pleased I read this today. I have a tray of what I thought were Sloes in the freezer. I was planning to make gin or vodka with it. But if Bullace really are that astringent I reckon I'll give it a miss.

Ifailed Wed 18-Nov-20 16:56:27


Don't! Bullace are a type of plum, and are far sweeter than sloes, however there are many crosses out there and some can be no more than larger sloes whereas others are like small plums.

In my experience, Bullace come out a bit earlier than sloes and don't keep on the bush - they wither away unlike sloes which are hardier.

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