To mark our collaboration with Planet Jupiter’s three gin festivals this spring/summer, Jane Pikett serves up some gin-themed dishes
If you know your gin, you will certainly know your juniper as it’s juniper berries which give the spirit its distinctive flavour. Spicy and aromatic, juniper berries can be used fresh or dried, crushed or whole, in rich fruit cakes, to cure meat or fish, and to pack a punch in casseroles and marinades with pork, rabbit, venison, beef and duck.
The Europeans really know their juniper, and famously, in the Alsace region of France, the heart attack-inducing choucroute garnie comprises sauerkraut braised with cured pork, bacon, sausage and juniper berries. The purists make their own sauerkraut, cure their own sausage, and no doubt pick their own juniper berries for this dish, which can take days to make.
The key here is to be sparing. These bad boys are tiny, but they pack a dark, peppery punch and can overpower lighter flavours. If you’re new to using them, do so sparingly – the more you experiment, the more they will reward you.
Gin, assuming you can lay off it long enough to use it in your cooking, is also a surprisingly versatile ingredient, and not just in a glass. Try these…