Sloes aren’t the first things you think of in association with ‘Modern Abruzzo’ despite their ability to grow up to 1600 masl, but dig a little and you soon bump into a local recipe or two that will help brace those long winter nights with their wild plummy delights. Naturally high in Vitamin C, they are one of nature’s natural cleansers of our digestive system, stimulating the process like any good tonic.
My first sip of Bargnolino was in Poggio Umbricchio, TE on one of the last days of August post a truffle hunt with Enzo who organises the White Truffle Sagra in the town. It was made by his Mother Annina. She served it chilled with a slice of her homemade not too sweet Ciambellone cake, which gave this delicious liqueur the platform it needed to show off its aromatic, sweet rich flavours and beautiful colour. Being from Abruzzo she naturally used Montepulciano d’Abruzzo rather than the traditional Gutturnio wine used in Piacenza. If you are a fan of Sloe Gin and sweet Ratafia do give Annina’s recipe a whizz as an alternative this year!
Annina's Abruzzese Bargnolino
- 600 g Sloes
- 600 ml Alcohol
- 600 ml Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
- 400 g Sugar
- Wash your sloes, add them to a demi'john or large airtight jar with the alcohol. The fruit must macerate for 40-60 days, shaking the jar at least once a day.
- Prepare a syrup by warming your wine and sugar over a low heat and leave to cool.
- Lightly squeeze your berries and filter through a plastic funnel with a coffee filter inside. Add your sloe-infused alcohol to your wine syrup and mix well. Bottle and leave to rest for at least one month, before gifting as Christmas presents.
Luciano's Sloe Berry Jam
- 1 kg Sloe Pulp
- 750 g Sugar
- 1 Grated Apple
- 1 Juice from Lemon
- Wash the sloes and put them in a heavy-bottomed pot with a ladle of water. Cook until the fruits become soft. Remove from the heat, allow to cool and with a lot of patience, separate the pulp from the stones.
- Put the pitted sloes back into the pot, add the sugar and the grated apple. Turn with a wooden spoon over low heat to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom.
- After half an hour add the lemon juice.
- Allow to cook for another 30 minutes or until the jam wrinkles on a spoon and no longer slips off. Pour the boiling jam into sterilised jars, close the lid and turn it upside down for at least five minutes. Then, straighten it and let it cool to room temperature. If you plan not to consume the jam in a short time, immerse the jars in water, bring up to the boil for about thirty minutes. Once the jar is opened, the jam must be kept in the refrigerator.