The Nire Valley Walking Festival based in the heart of the Comeragh Mountains, Waterford, Ireland.

A sloe day in the country.

At the bottom of my garden are two trees six feet apart and but separated by 4,000 years!

IMG 20130911 150240 One is a plum tree the other a blackthorn. The plums, purple/red, are juicy and very sweet, the sloe is  small hard with a magnificent black and electric blue skin. Anyone who has bitten into to a sloe knows  they are bitter, astringent to be exact as they dry out your mouth in an instant leaving you unable to  taste anything for several moments. Yet these two trees are related as plums were breed from the  sloe.

 The sloe producing blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) comes into bloom in March and is the first full blown  hint of spring that nature gives us.  We frequently get cold, stormy weather in early April blowing all  the blackthorn petals off the branches leaving the roadside covered with white petal blossom and in parts of England this is called blackthorn winter. The blackthorn is used for fencing as its long thorns make it impenetrable to cattle while the timber of the blackthorn is used to make the Shillelagh walking stick.

Even though the sloe taste is astringent it still has its uses. It is commonly used to make sloe-gin or, my favourite, sloe-apple jelly. It takes a minimum of 3 months to make sloe-gin and thus needs to be carefully planned to have in time for Christmas, but it is better if you can leave it longer.  Sloe-apple jelly is made by adding two parts crab apple one part sloe. The taste is divine, very tart but goes well on scones.

Next time you are in the country, try a sloe.


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Superb Walking, Great Talking & Traditional Nire Valley Hospitality     Website by: Déise Design
Nire Valley Walking Festival
Superb Walking, Great Talking & Traditional Nire Valley Hospitality

Michael Wall 086 7702544 | Mary Wall 052 6136134 | Ann Kelly 052 6136939