By George McIvor, chairman of The Master Chefs of Great Britain

The Master Chefs of Great Britain was formed in 1980 to provide a forum for the exchange of culinary ideas and to further the profession through training and the guidance of young chefs. In addition, the association seeks to promote all that is best about British cuisine and produce. We are delighted to be working with Country Range and providing information and recipes for their Eat the Season feature.

For more information on the association and the competitions and training opportunities we provide, contact

Sloes come from the Blackthorn, a small deciduous tree that is native to the UK and Europe – traditionally the wood is used to make walking or riding sticks and Irish shillelaghs. But it is its fruit – the sloe – that people immediately recognise.

Sloes are believed to help stimulate digestion whilst the flowers are thought to help combat coughs and cold.

  1. Handy candy Candied sloes offer a brilliant added element to this grouse ravioli dish with hazelnuts, truffle, Parmesan and kale
  2. Sloe down Make your own sloe gin then use it to create a delicious Sloe Gin Martini by adding 15ml vermouth to 70ml sloe gin and Angostura bitters. Garnish with lemon peel.
  3. Glaze-y days A sloe gin glaze packs an added punch to this delightful pickled vegetables dish with shallot dressing and cress.
  4. Preservation order Apples and sloes are a great combination and make a delicious jam. For a richer recipe, use the sloes when you strain the gin!

Official tasting notes

By New Covent Garden Market, the UK’s leading wholesale fruit and vegetable market

Properties: Sloes are a small fruit from the same family as plums and cherries and are deep purple in colour. Raw sloes have a thin layer of pulp and an incredibly sharp, bitter taste. For this reason, they are best used as a flavouring to deliver a fresh plumminess. The fruit can be best enjoyed following the first frosts from October to November.

Usage: The most common usage of sloes is to make sloe gin, where the ripened fruit is stored in a bottle with sugar and left to steep for many months before drinking. However, the fruit can also be used to make sloe syrup, sloe jam or sloe jelly. Enjoy as a dessert, spread on toast or add the syrup to wine, cakes and ice cream, to add a delicious tart flavour.

Notes: If picked prior to the first frost, they can be stored in a freezer to mimic the same effect and achieve the tart taste