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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. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Big Al

    Thanks so much for all your tips. I use chilli sherry a lot in my cooking.

    I make an oxtail stew – must try making some soup.
    Lets hope we all have a great Christmas and a happy 2010 🙂

  2. I have been making Chilli Sherry for Family and Friends for years…As an old soldier it was a standard British Army Recipe to make many dishes “zing”.
    My original started over 20 years ago and the golden rule is NEVER, NEVER let it go below half measures before a top up…..
    I am just now producing some for Christmas presants that has matured for over 10 years, so smooth with that great kick…..
    For all who have discovered (try ox tail soup but make your owwn soup from fresh ox tail) have a Grest Christams and Happy 2010.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Trevor

    Cucumber soup and a dash of chilli sherry sounds divine.

    We top up the same bottle with sherry and another chilli every now and then. I use it a lot, just to perk up a dish and have a glug a day when I catch a cold – it clears the head in seconds.

  4. One of my fave gastronomic memories (and I have a few) is from the Umzolozolo game lodge in South Africa where we were served an amazing warm cucumber soup which was amazing in it’s own right.A few drops of Desmond’s chilli sherry added just the right zing to make this an unforgettable dish. I’m off to the supermarket right now to pick up a bottle or two of sherry so that I can put those fresh chillies in the kitchen to work.

  5. If making chilli vodka and your preference is for it to not be too spicy and just a slight chilli kick. Slice the 3 chillis lengthways, deseed them. Then leave in the vodka for 12-24 hours depends on preference (you can taste it as the spiciness will remain the same once the chillis are removed), remove the chillis then reseal the vodka bottle with candle wax. If like me you like it for punishing shots at parties leave 2 halves in the bottle and seal it. It will get spicier the longer you leave it, I have a bottle in the cupboard from 2005 when I first started with 4 sliced chillis in that frankly i am too scared to drink.

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Brilliant idea, H, thanks for dropping by.

  7. Great in Bloody Mary’s!

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi LizO,

    This is well worth making. A slug is great in soup on a cold winter’s day.

  9. Hi
    This is interesting and I shall have a go. In the 1960’s I spent a year in Bermuda and they use Chilli Sherry as an seasoning for things like soups – just a small drizzle in the middle of the plate of soup gives it a real zing. I don’t remember what flavours the soups were but I do remember Consomme and also thick, probably potatoey soups. Anyway I thought that was the only place that used it so great to find a recipe so that I can recapture the flavour!!

  10. tractorfactorsteve

    sounds a good idea. what if sherry’s not your tipple? chilli vinegar’s a good standby..what else? i’ve made my own powder using the electric coffee grinder, keeps for ages, but best in the fridge. i always put a few in with pickled onions and with oven dried toms for a bit of added zing. i once worked with a woman from southern india who used to munch a fresh chilli every lunchtime, the show off!

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