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Best Chilli Sherry recipe

Bunches of red chilli peppers from Lake Como, Italy

Bunches of red chilli peppers from Lake Como, Italy

I’m not successful when I try and grow chilli plants from seed. Everything starts off well, and I give my surplus plantlets away to friends. A few weeks later, when my plants are beginning to look peaky, I spot the giveaways flourishing in their gardens. It’s maddening. Last year one friend even complained that she had a glut!

So I supply the neighbourhood but am forced to cheat with chilli plants at home. By mid July, when it’s clear that all hope is lost, I drive to a good garden centre. If I’m lucky, I’ll find a large chilli plant, covered with flowers for under a fiver. I put it in my greenhouse and it thrives. On the garden tour no one as yet has admired my chilli plant, so for the past three years I haven’t had to lie.

We consume a lot of chillies. And using our own, albeit adopted, gives me enormous pleasure. When we go away to southern Europe I search for chillies to bring home so that there is a tiny piece of that place in our larder. Sunnier climates produce great chillies.

We harvest our chillies before the first frosts and string them up on long lengths of cotton to dry. Using a darning needle, tether the chillies through their stalks along the thread, making sure that they are spaced out well and do not touch. We hang them across a window for several weeks until they are completely dry and store them in air tight jars in a cool dry place. We always keep a few fresh chillies back to make chilli sherry.

Chilli sherry is a great way of pepping up sauces, stir fries and soup. Sometimes we use a tiny dash of chilli sherry in a salad dressing or a casserole. A few of the little Como peppers are going straight into a bottle of dry sherry this evening.
If you are handling chillies be careful to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Oliver, a friend of ours, forgot to do this and went for a pee with painful consequences.

Best Chilli Sherry recipe
Recipe Type: Liqueur
Author: Fiona Nevile
  • 1×75 ml bottle of dry sherry (medium price range)
  • 4 hot fresh chilli peppers (we’ve used dried ones in the past. They work but not quite as well)
  1. Pour yourself a glass of sherry to drink whilst you prepare this potent recipe.
  2. Wash the peppers well and put into the sherry. Reseal bottle.
  3. Leave to seep for at least a month before using.
  4. Label clearly and keep away from the drinks tray.
  5. Sometimes if I have a bad cold I take a small glass before bed as it clears the head in seconds.

Tips and tricks:

The longer you seep the chillies the stronger the flavour.
We have a vintage bottle of chilli sherry complete with chillis (three years old). A tiny sip clears the nose like lightening when you have a cold.

On the health front, chillies can be beneficial if eaten in moderation. They have antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties and are even supposed to improve the quality of your sleep.

If you can find some pretty bottles, chilli sherry makes a good and original Christmas present.

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  1. I make chilli gin and chilli sherry regularly.
    I always use smaller bottles ( like the Angostura bitters bottles or Sarson type vinegar bottles).
    I always use dried piri piri cgillis ( or equivalent).
    Stage one is to fill the bottle with the chillis — when half full I always add a clove of garlic and then a sprig of rosemary , thyme or similar herb before filling right up to the top with chillis.
    I then fill the bottles carefully to the brim with liquid and stopper them and leave to let the chillis absorb the liquid. After a day I top up with liquid and may top up again during the first week.
    For the gin I use standard own brand supermarket gin but I always use a mid range Amontillado sherry for my chilli sherry.
    Once the bottles need no further topping up I seal off the caps with those shrink wrap wine bottle tops which ensures a pretty good seal. I then label with my own design label and distribute as gifts to discerning epicures.
    The chilli gin is usable after about a week but I always mature my chilli sherry for a year
    And of course one should top up before the bottle is half empty it will certainly survive at least a couple of top up in use.

    I learned many years ago that a few shakes into any casserole will lift its flavour without any noticeable addition of heat.

    I made chilli vodka once but tbh found it lacked the depth of flavour of gin. I have never ever used any other type of spirit but I wonder now whether calvados might produce an acceptable addition to my range

    • BTW I am inevitably an ex army man with long service in the middle east. Including some 11 years in Oman!

  2. Growing Chillies

    I would just like to say the photos you use on the website are very sharp. really good job.

    if you grow your own chilis i would like to encourage you to visit my site and leave a comment and even write a article about your growing chillies experience.

    Growing Chillies

  3. Brilliant, thanks fn, could you also let me know whether I should put chillies in whole, split, deseeded or pricked (have decided to try this using mead).

  4. Oh and can I use any sort of chillies in the sherry as we have quite a few different ones growing at the moment on our windowledges. I have a very pretty golden cayenne that I would love to use and it is quite a long variety, would also like to add some Medusa chillies to the mix, would it be OK to mix the varieties?
    Thanks again

  5. Hi would love to have a go at making the chilli sherry, could anyone let me know if you just pop the whole chillies in the mix or should they be deseeded or pricked.
    Thanks in advance

  6. nickwill

    Hi Alice,

    just had a glass of the Chilli Sherry I made last December with the chillies we grew ourselves. It’s maturing nicely, I’ll have to top the bottle up and add another chilli from this years crop!

  7. My grandparents wanted me to find a good recipe for this and I think they will love it. They love strong and spicy chillis. When they went to visit my uncle in Queensland, they found a farm that had these being sold so they bought a bottle and loved it so much that they put my on a mission and they grow chillis.

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