I pass some amazing blackthorn bushes every day on my way to catch the bus for work. I've never picked sloes before, and am loving watching them grow. I'm not quite sure when's the best time to pick them, lots of websites (Sloe.biz is a good one) seem to suggest waiting for the first frost, but they look ready now, some of the sloes are actually starting to shrivel up.
Here's a picture of the sloes on 3 August (still with quite a 'red' tinge, and hard when you try to squeeze them):
And here they are on 31 August, now a deep purple, a little bit squidgy, starting to get little brown patches on some of the fruit, and the plants are really losing their leaves now:
So, I couldn't help myself and picked this lot. I'm going to try to make some sloe gin with them.