Gin & Tonic Jelly

maids

The Happy Couple plus bridesmaids (I’m the one on the end who clearly eats the most).

Some many months ago the Older Male Sibling got his self engaged to a lovely lady and two years of planning and scribbling and testing and head scratching began for many people.

This culminated in a wonderful day out last week during which everyone looked gorgeous and said lovely things and celebrated this irritatingly marvelously photogenic couple and their genuinely heart warming commitment to one another. Congrats, dudes. Sincerely.

But you’ve had enough of the spotlight so back to ME! Me, the sister, the sweets factory, the purveyor of Wedding Favours.  I was happy to be asked to provide little treats for the wedding guests and after a few brief conversations that you don’t care about we agreed on a whisky marmalade for the fellas and a gin and lime jelly for the ladies.  I found recipes, I was happy, and I sat back to relax for roughly 10 months before I had to start making them.

Then March arrived and it was time to start cooking. Oh wait, I forgot the bit where I got a new phone over the summer and chucked out my knackered old Samsung. My knackered old Samsung that had the gin and lime jelly recipe saved on it. I think that cumulatively I spend a solid day of my life trying to find it again, to no avail. What I did find was a ton of ridiculously long and drawn out methods to mix sugar and citrus into a sticky and visually acceptable substance to adorn the wedding breakfast tables.
Shit.
Due to having a successful but time consuming boys’ recipe down, I really did not have time to spend 3-4 hours per batch (with overnight soaking) on a full on lime marmalade for the gals too. Ten add in my own self mutilation of changing day jobs the week before the big day and spending two days away training and I had very little time left and all of it was more or less in the middle of the three nights leading up to the day when I had to deliver.
Shit!!!!!!
On realising that a traditionally touted method wasn’t going to do it, I went back to my beat up and batter-stained recipe book to see if I could find any old jams or experiments that I could tinker with to come up with 75 jars in less than six cooking sessions. I came across a long forgotten carrot ‘marmalade’ from days long past which was easy to make, vegan and coeliac friendly and dammit it might just work!

If there is another recipe in the world where you can swap carrots for limes and it works just as well, well, I would like to hear about it!

jars

I am happier with this recipe than I can really express, not just because it saved my contribution to the McBarton Wedding Extravaganza, it’s also bloody nice although something of an acquired taste with a definite finish of tonic water. It is pretty sweet, what with all the sugar, and lime zest can be a little bit tough if you don’t get your soaking in or are lazy on the zesting but the over riding result spread over a warm buttered bagel is frankly a tangy blob of jiggly breakfast heaven. It will go equally well on a scone or stirred into some Greek yoghurt.

The lemon and juniper berry garnish came to mind as a testament to the current trend of super G&T garnish game and can easily be left out.

Also, it’s really not that boozy!

Boomboom G&T Jelly

Makes roughly 1.5l or 15x100ml gift sized jars

limes

1kg white granulated sugar
500g limes- get the softest ones you can find and keep them out of the fridge the day before use
350ml Tonic Water
125ml liquid pectin
Gin
1 lemon (optional)
Juniper Berries (optional)

Begin by quartering then finely slicing the lemon (if using) then covering the slices in gin and leaving to soak.

Next thoroughly wash and rinse your jars and lids, then put the jars into a cold oven on a baking tray. Switch the oven on now to about 80 degrees.

Wash your limes then thoroughly zest them- try to get as much as you can as there is so much flavour in the zest but try to avoid taking any pith with it. Once zested, juice the remaining lime thoroughly. I find the best way is to just slice the lime in half and jam in a fork then basically smush the lime around the fork as much as possible. You will discover a million paper cuts you didn’t know you had with this technique however! If you can dig a little bit of flesh out too then all the better but again, avoid the pithy bits.
Mix the juice and the zest and set aside, and if possible give them a good 10 minutes or more to soak.

For the sake of ease, clear your work area now and measure out your pectin into a glass and put this in easy reach of the stove.Pour out a glass of gin and get a teaspoon at the ready for this.  Also put your juniper berries into a small dish that is easy to get into and find a cocktail stick or similar to fish out the lemon slices with as you need to work quickly. Have a thick tea towel and a solid chopping board or heat proof mat handy too.

Turn up the oven to 100 degrees.

mix

use a deep pan for this recipe, it really bubbles up!

Empty your sugar into a large preserving pan then mix in the tonic water and go oooooh as it goes all fizzy for a moment. On a note about the sugar, you can use golden caster sugar as it won’t  change the set or the taste very much but will give a more yellowy colour to the finished jelly so if you are making multiple batches it is best to keep to the same sugar so they look the same. Stir in the lime juice and zest then whack up the heat. The sugar will dissolve quickly, don’t stir the mix after this point as it will mess with the heat distribution. Bring the mix to a gentle boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan for this time as it is a total bitch to clean this stuff off the stove if it boils over. Just take my word for this. After 5 minutes, take the pan off the heat and pour in the pectin WHILST STIRRING. Seriously, this is important to avoid a poor consistency in the end product. Stir it while it is going in then stir it for a full minute whilst off the heat.
Then, put it back on the heat and take your jars out of the oven and onto a heat proof surface (your chopping board).

Boil the jelly mix for a further 2 minutes then take off the heat.

Working quickly, put a slice of the lemon and a juniper berry (or several for large jars) into the base of each jar. At the very last moment before filling the jar, add 1-2 teaspoons of gin per 100ml of the jar capacity. So 2 tsp for the gift jars I used or scale this up if you are using bigger jars. Spoon in the hot jelly mix then seal the jar and set aside to cool. After 10 minutes or so wipe the jars over with a damp cloth as spills are easier to clean while it is still warm.

And that’s it. Depending on conditions they may take 2-3 hours or overnight to set (bigger jars take longer). You can speed up the process in the fridge but hot jars+ cold fridge= potential temperature disturbance for your food so this is best avoided.  If the set is slow you might see the zest all rising to the top, in which case just give the jar a gentle jiggle to redistribute.

They are lovely to gift but keep one for yourself to enjoy with a warm baked good or tipped over ice cream with your next Netflix binge.

Sealed, these will keep for months but should go into the fridge once opened and finished in 2 weeks.

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