A while ago I went to visit my Great Uncle up in Perthshire. It was summer time and he was growing all manner of things in his greenhouse; in amongst the tomatoes and various other fruit and veg stood his favourite of the lot – the chilli plant. A passing remark I made about how good they looked turned into a fairly lengthy discussion (as exciting foods regularly do) and it turns out that some of these very chillies were about to be harvested in order to make chilli gin. This is about the time I decided I needed to make some chilli and lime gin.
If it wasn’t clear to me before – well, it’s rather obvious, but whatever – this is clearly the part of the family that I get my ‘gin genes’ from. But this wasn’t any ordinary gin that he was making, oh no. This gin is his annual contribution to the village’s church summer fair and was to be the prize for one of the vegetable competitions. You couldn’t make it up.
Obviously this was far too good an opportunity for me to pass up on, so a couple of weeks later I got started making my chilli and lime gin. The colour of this creation is absolutely stunning – if a little on the radio-active/Martian side – and despite its refreshing summery hues this little devil packed a little punch, making it the perfect winter warmer. It comes highly recommended, although a little tonic does help. The dog was also really intrigued, but don’t worry, despite receiving the big brown eye treatment she was not allowed near enough to taste it. Still, the photo is adorable so I had to include it here.
Chilli and Lime Gin
This recipe is an adaptation from Sharky Oven Gloves. Obviously using your own home-grown chillies and limes would make this even better, but this wasn’t really an option for me. For the gin base I used Gordon’s – any half decent gin will do (not own brand: if it tastes like paint stripper beforehand, it will do so afterwards as well!) but don’t go too fancy as subtler notes will be overpowered by the flavours. I make mine in a 1 litre kilner jar I got online. The Usual Saucepans obviously supports responsible drinking (but has been known to err itself, on occasion).
2 red chillies
50g caster sugar
Get a large preserving jar (mine was a 1 litre one) and put the zest and juice of the limes into it. To this add the chillies, sugar and about a third of the gin. Swirl and shake until the sugar has dissolved and then add in the rest of the gin. Shake again.
Put in a cool, dark place and leave for about a fortnight (no one can be expected to wait much longer!) remembering to give it a good shake every day or two.
Once the gin has a strong green colour to it drain it – I use a sieve and lined with kitchen roll, but a cheesecloth does the same job – and pour the liquid into a pre-sterilised bottle.
Serve over ice, with a splash or two of tonic.