Can you eat sloe berries?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Can you eat sloe berries?.” We will further consider what sloes are, what the plant looks like, the nutrients of sloes, why sloes are avoided raw, how to eat berries safely, the possibility of toxicity of sloes, and the culinary and medicinal uses of sloes. 

Can you eat sloe berries?

Yes, you can eat sloe berries. Sloes are related to plums and cherries, which are all edible. However, the sloe berries have a really sharp taste and then dry up the mouth before you even finish eating the first one, but if you are a daring person, you should be able to eat them raw.

What are soles?

Sloe is commonly known as blackthorn and scientifically identified as Prunus spinosa. It is a thorny hedgerow plant with dark purple berries which are used to make warming country wine or gin. In the British Isles, the little tree or shrub has a long history in folklore and medicine.

What does the sloe look like?

A sloe is a small tree or shrub with a height of up to 4 metres. The bark is black with spiky black stems, and the tree has oval-like leaves and snowy-white blooms. 

The plant produces dark purplish berries between August and November, which are the sloe fruits, or popularly sloe berries. The plant is native to the United States and is deciduous.

What are the nutrients in sloe berries?

Sloe berries are similar to plums in appearance and nutrition as well. In 100 grams of fresh sloe berries, there are approximately 10 mg of vitamin C and 5 mg of vitamin E. 

They are also high in other nutrients, including 453 milligrams of potassium, 5 milligrams of calcium, and 22 milligrams of magnesium per 100 grams. 

The fruit is also rich in antioxidants like phenols and flavonoids, as well as essential fatty acids, which are known to provide a variety of health benefits.

Why are sloe berries rarely consumed raw?

The sole berries are the tiniest and tastiest of the plum family’s fruits. However, sloe berries are too bitter and sour to eat raw, even though they taste fantastic after being preserved. 

The fruit is highly tart when eaten raw and thus commonly avoided as a raw fruit, which, however, pairs well with alcoholic beverages. 

Sloe gin is a traditional favourite, and the leftover fruits are usually used in making sloe gin chocolates.

How can you eat sloe berries safely?

It is usually best to pick sloe berries when they are ripe and begin to show a deep blue colouration. However, at this time, the berries can be really high in tannin, the compound that gives them their highly astringent taste. 

To enjoy the berries with a mild taste when the tannin levels have decreased means waiting for the first frost, which you can also artificially induce by harvesting and freezing them, which allows the starches to convert to sugars and the tannin levels to also decrease. 

In this sense, they possess a mild taste that is okay to enjoy with no issues at all. 

Can sloe berries be poisonous?

Yes, sloe berries can be poisonous. Although the berries are commercially processed into sloe gin, wine, and preserves, a modest amount of raw berries is unlikely to harm your health. 

On the other hand, larger doses of hydrogen cyanide can be lethal and poisonous to consume, and must therefore be avoided raw in large amounts.

What are the culinary uses of sloes?

There can be a variety of uses for sloes too, besides the popular use of sloe fruit in making sloe wine and gin. 

  • Sloes are well known for imparting a deep pluminess to syrups and chocolate.
  • Sloes are used for preservation due to their high acidic value.
  • They are used in making jam and jelly. 
  • The leaves can also be used to prepare tea.
  • The flowers can also be sugared to make edible cake decorations.

What are the medicinal uses of sloes?

Sloes are commonly consumed, including fruits, flowers, and leaves for diverse medicinal purposes. Some medicinal uses of the plant include:

  • The use of sloe flowers as a laxative
  • The astringent sloe berries and bark have been used to treat diarrhoea.
  • Sloes were commonly employed as cough and cold medicines due to their astringency. 
  • The peeled bark of the plant is boiled in water for the treatment of bronchitis.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have answered the question, “Can you eat sloe berries?.” We have further considered what sloes are, what the plant looks like, the nutrients of sloes, why sloes are avoided raw, how to eat sloe berries safely, the possibility of toxicity of sloes, and the culinary and medicinal uses of sloes.

Citation

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.