Plums in Sloe Gin – Where Summer Meets Autumn

My favourite place to walk is on the Dorset coast, from the ruined village of Tyneham, through woods carpeted with wild garlic in the spring, down to the pebbly beach. The abandoned cottages, empty since the government commandeered them in 1943, are still standing, but only just.

Walking there yesterday with the sun shining and the sea a piercing blue, it felt like the height of summer. But then I passed bushes clustered with huge, ripe, purple sloes, the fruit of autumn. It’s the time of year when summer seeps away almost imperceptibly. Plums may still be ripening in the sun, but the nourishing recipes of autumn are starting to entice.

The plum tree I planted last year and which produced precisely eight plums, has been showing off like a precocious ballerina this year. But as all show-offs discover, they get their come-uppance in the end. Several of the wildly overladen branches have snapped beneath the weight of the fruit, leaving behind a tree trunk and not much else.

Inspired by the beautiful purple sloes by the sea, I cooked my summer plums in the autumnal sloe gin that I made last year. It’s two seasons on a plate at once.

Plums Baked in Sloe Gin

Serves 4

800g plums, stones removed

100g vanilla sugar

100ml sloe gin – if you can’t find wild sloes in the hedgerow to make your own gin, it’s possible to buy sloe gin online

Combine the fruit, sugar and sloe gin in an ovenproof dish. Cover with foil and bake at 180 degrees C for about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

I ate baked plums for breakfast with natural yoghurt and more for lunch on their own. I’ll probably eat them for supper too.



  1. What a wonderful combination. I only have a few precious drops of sloe gin left, so I will have to wait until next year to try this. I wonder what could be stewed in my blackfeet liqueur, which I am about to decant?

  2. The blackfeet liqueur sounds very exciting – do let me know what you combine it with!

  3. I think it would be hard to take a bad shot of that particular beach, Jakey. It's beautiful, whatever the weather.

  4. Sloes, I adore sloes, all hedgerows are full of sloes, but they need temperatures below zero.Great pictures!

  5. Thanks ostwestwind – it's always said that sloes need a first frost before they're picked, but I've never tested the theory out. Have you?

  6. I was walking near Durdle Door only the other day in brilliant sunshine – it looked like Greece not Dorset. The sloes are too tempting this year and it's one of the things that makes me rue my return to Dubai. I'll have to keep visiting this post for a fix of Autumn when I'm back in the heat.

  7. Hi Sally I'm glad to be a source of virtual Autimn for you! Perhaps simulated autumnal weather is the best kind.

  8. This sounds so great!! I love sloe gin, so this combination sounds really lovely xxx

  9. Dorset is my favourite county of all, it looks fabulous in your photos. I am jealous of your plum tree, I hope it recovers well and produces next year too

  10. The tree looks shocking at the moment – if a tree can be dragged through a hedge backwards, that's what it looks like. I completely agree with you about Dorset by the way.

I'd love to know what you think - do leave a comment