How to Make Citrus Gins
Winter is the time for citrus in every shade, from lemon chiffon to saffron mandarins, tangerines, Moro blood oranges, kumquats and tiny key limes. To my delight, I managed to get my hands on some Meyer lemons recently, a less acidic variety, with a sherbet tangerine kick – they hail from California. Any of these citrus fruits would work well in this gin, but I’ve used my favourite of all, the bergamot.
The heady bergamot orange is a fragrant citrus that grows in France and Italy. It looks like a squat green lemon. Its juice is more acidic than lemon but its peel is uplifting – it has a deeper, almost woody citrus scent. I adore it. You can also buy bergamot lemons which look like a traditional lemon but taste sweeter, with a more orange skin; I like to use the greener bergamot oranges as they have more of the floral lemony notes I love, but both work. I have made a pretty pink-tinged blood orange version too.
I make this in a similar way to limoncello, with some added sugar, so it’s sweeter than regular gin, meaning you can drink it straight over ice or in a gin and tonic.
500ml good gin
300g golden caster sugar
Peel long strips of rind from the bergamots using a vegetable peeler, taking care not to use too much of a heavy hand, otherwise you’ll end up with a lot of bitter pith.
Place the peel in the bottom of a lidded clean glass jar or bottle and add the gin, using a funnel if it’s easier. Leave in a dark place for the flavours to develop; this can take from 1–3 weeks. Generally, once the peel has turned white, all its flavour has been infused.
Once your gin has had its steeping time you are ready to mix it with the sugar syrup. Put the sugar and 300ml of cold water into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, allowing all the sugar to dissolve, then simmer for a further 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Strain the gin into a jug, then add about the same volume of sugar syrup and taste it, adding a little more to taste – the more sugar the smoother the flavour.
Pour the gin into sterilised bottles and secure with a top. It will keep for years, although it’s unlikely to last that long.
IMAGES: Anna Jones