Damson and Sloe Vinegar

This is another quick autumnal idea. I've wittered on about flavoured and fruit vinegars before but they’re such useful things to have around, especially in the dark, dull days of winter, that I wanted to mention this particularly pleasing one made with damsons and sloes.

The method is much the same as for any fruit vinegar and can be scaled up or down for the amount of fruit you happen to have. This vinegar can be made with all damsons but the sloes add an extra sharpness that works very well. I reckon that two-thirds damsons to one-third sloes is ideal.

This is a traditional British style of sweetened fruit vinegar and it's probably better to treat it like a flavouring syrup rather than a conventional vinegar. It can be used in dressings, is particularly good in marinades and is excellent when added to slow cooked dishes such as braised red cabbage and winter casseroles, especially those made with game. I tend to make fruit vinegars in small batches and use them up fairly quickly, but they should keep for at least 6 months and probably longer.
Damson and Sloe Vinegar
Wash and dry the fruit. Prick the fruit with the point of a knife – two or three times per fruit if you have the patience. Place the fruit in a non-reactive bowl and pour over white wine vinegar (cider vinegar will work too). You need 580 ml of white wine vinegar to every 450 g of fruit. Give it a good stir, cover the bowl and leave it to steep for 5 days, stirring every day if you remember.

After 5 days, strain the fruit and vinegar mix through muslin. Measure the resulting liquid and add 450 g of granulated sugar for every 570 ml of liquid. Pour the mixture into a non-reactive saucepan and bring it up to boiling point while stirring to ensure that the sugar dissolves fully. Simmer very gently for 15 minutes skimming off any nasty looking stuff that might float to the surface.

Allow the vinegar to cool a little before pouring into sterilised bottles.
Damson Notice
I don’t have a damson tree, but happily other people around here do.


  1. I love that last photograph... reminds me so much of my little village near Liverpool, this is exactly what people would do :)

    I don't think we get damsons here... can I make this with anything else, Phil? I have a boatload of highbush cranberries coming up, which are tart and I can't be faffing about with making jelly, so this may be the answer...

    1. You can make this sort of vinegar with many different sorts of fruit. I've never tried cranberries but I think they'd work really well. I've just come back from Liverpool but there wasn't much to pick. It's been so wet there this summer that the pickings are definitely on the slim side.

  2. This is a good idea Phil, never had a chance to make vinegar before, but this is tempting - loved the idea of adding to casseroles, with autumn in the air, it is very welcoming :)

  3. I so wish I lived in your neck of the woods ... or to be fair, I would actually settle for a neck of the woods anywhere, especially at this time of the year when there is foraging a plenty to be had. What a great idea for a flavoured vinegar. This would make a great Chrissy pressie.

  4. Love the flavour combination and the idea of fruit vinegars. Haven't seen damsons for a long time - nowhere to forage around here; haven't seen any for sale either.

  5. love it... I hadn't thought of sloe vinegar before but this is brilliant, as is that excellent sign... fab!

  6. No damsons or sloes around here :-( This sounds a good recipe though to hang on to. Take care Diane

  7. THANK you! Just in time for my sloes, and I also have some damsons to hand too....

  8. this is a keeper Phil. A very interesting vinegar with a surely interesting flavour.

  9. Lovely idea I have made damson and Sloe Gin but never vinegar before. Time to start I think...........

  10. This is really neat Phil, creating you're very own fruity vinegar. You must bottle it, label with your name and sell it :). The test tube you have it in is the perfect packaging.


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