TLSO and I have been prone to putting berries into vodka now that we have actual berry bushes in our possession. This year, one of the things we wanted to try was a strawberry liqueur (with store-bought strawberries, mind – we unfortunately do not have our own strawberry fields, forever or at the moment). But, as neither of us is actually that fond of straightforward, sickly sweet liqueurs, we felt it needed a kick too – enter red chilli pepper! The improvised recipe turned out seriously good: sweet, but not too sweet, with plenty of strawberry flavour and lovely lingering heat from the red chilli. Dangerously delectable stuff, this.
The process is utterly simple:
Strawberry Chilli Liqueur
500 g strawberries, hulled and halved. Red, juicy strawberries with flavour, please: none of those hastily grown, fist-sized things that are white inside and completely bland.
1 red chile pepper, seeded and sliced
250 g caster sugar
500 ml vodka
Here’s what you do: Combine all ingredients in a 2-litre jar with a tight fitting lid, give the jar a good shake, and put it down on the table. That’s it. Now you just wait for 4 weeks, shaking the jar every now and then, and watch the strawberries lose their colour and the sugar dissolve.
After 4 weeks, sieve the contents of the jar; press the strawberries slightly to get as much liquid out of them as possible. (You can line the sieve with cheesecloth if you want a clearer liqueur) Bottle the gloriously red liquid – of which you will get about 750 ml. It’s pretty darn good as it is, but letting it mature a little in the bottle will only improve it.
You can use the soaked strawberries and chilli pepper bits in baking. I made one of my favourite quick-fix coffee cakes: French Yogurt Cake, sans rosewater. It totally looks like a salami pie – especially with the red chilli pieces! - but tasted good.