Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Berry Liqueur

It is not long enough until Christmas. Father Christmas will soon be dusting off his suit, tightening his belt for those small chimneys, and polishing the harnesses for his reindeer; he may be wishing he had not tried so many of the sweet dishes I have shared in my column this year.

With Christmas so close have you been wondering what you can make for the special people in your life, something to put you in the Christmas spirit? I have the best idea ever – berry liquor. It is fast, inexpensive and a lovely gift to give. Today I am going to give you two recipe options; one that will be ready to give for Christmas, and another that will be ready for mid-winter Christmas, when you need something to warm your belly. First, though, some history:

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liqueur, liqueurs date back centuries and are historical descendants of herbal medicines, often those prepared by monks, as Chartreuse or Bénédictine. Recipes for liqueurs have been found in Egyptian tombs and ancient Greek scrolls, but it is primarily the monks of Europe, particularly Italian monks during the 13th Century, who developed the liqueur as a way to infuse herbs for medicinal use. One of the most famous liqueurs to be developed by European monks is Green Chartreuse, which was developed by monks from the Carthusian order in the French Alps. It contains over 130 herbs and spices, some of which are rare, and only three monks know the full recipe, and which herbs produce its unique, natural colour.

Nowadays, liqueurs are made worldwide and are served in many ways: by themselves, poured over ice, with coffee, mixed with cream or other mixers to create cocktails, etc. They are often served with or after a dessert. Liqueurs are also used in cooking.

So there you have it – a delicious gift to give and one that is steeped in a rich and glorious history.
Kia makona, Mawera Karetai x

Ready for Christmas Liqueur

1  1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 cups of fresh berries
1  1/2 cups vodka

Combine sugar, water and berries together in a heavy pot and simmer till sugar is dissolved and liquid starts to thicken. Let it cool, then add vodka and stand covered for at least two weeks the longer the better. Strain through fine muslin and decant into clean, dry bottles. Seal immediately.
Ready for mid-winter Christmas Liqueur
4 cups fresh berries
3 cups vodka
1 1/2 cups sugar

Rinse and check the berries and place them in a jar, add vodka and mix. Stir daily during the first days, later at least once a week for 3-4 weeks. Filter the mixture of berries and alcohol and decant the liquid to a bottle. Add sugar and shake until dissolved. After three months, strain the liqueur through a fine cloth. Add some more sugar if necessary. The liqueur should mellow for at least 6 months before drinking, preferably for 12 months.

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