Thursday, July 15, 2004

Strawberry Liqueur

How is it possible to create your own liqueur, I here you say? You know, it is so darned easy, anybody can do it. All you need is a few essential ingredients and a safe place to store your creation for as long as you possibly can.

I came across a recipe for cherry liqueur in one of Joanne Harris's novels. I was intrigued. I tried the recipe out and found it was not only extremely easy, but extremely successful. I used the biggest, blackest, sweetest summer cherries and was delighted to produce a dark liqueur that had a depth of flavour I found totally surprising. I wondered what other fruits could be used to create liqueur in the same way.

Of course strawberries were the most obvious choice. I've made this particular liqueur several times now. While the cherry liqueur is best left for one to two years, the strawberry variant can be ready to consume in as little as three months. If you can keep away from it that long, that is!

750gs fresh strawberries
1 cup castor sugar
750ml vodka (Absolut is best!)

1. Wash strawberries and shake to remove excess water.

2. Cut off green tops, slice in half and place in a 1.5 litre wide mouth jar - a Luminarc preserving jar is ideal.

3. When bottom of jar is covered with strawberries, sprinkle one third of the castor sugar over them. Then repeat layering fruit and sugar untiljar is full.

4. Pour the vodka into the jar, ensuring the strawberries are fully covered. Seal the jar and rotate several times to dissolve sugar. Retain the empty vodka bottle to decant the liqueur back into later.

5. Place sealed jar in cool, dark cupboard and leave for three months! Check daily during in the first week, turning the jar to continue dissolving the sugar.  The alcohol will leech the colour from the strawberry skins, taking on a rich pink by the fourth or fifth day.

6. At the end of the first week, taste liqueur to check the sweetness. If the flavour is predominantly vodka-ish, add one or two more tablespoons of castor sugar. Rotate jar until sugar dissolves. Then place back in cupboard and forget about it!

7. Retrieve jar from cupboard after three months. Remove fruit and prepare liqueur for filtration. Position a plastic funnel lined with a clean piece of muslin over a large, sterile glass jug.  Slowly pour contents of the jar into funnel. This may take several goes. Remove the fruit from the funnel on each round to make way for the next.  Don't hurry!

8. Once all the liqueur is transferred from the jar to the jug, place the jug in front of a window and examine for any impurities - look for strawberry seeds or fibres off the skin. If liqueur is free of debris, it's time to bottle!

9. Place clean funnel in mouth of Absolut bottle and slowly pour liqueur in! Now it's time to drink! You can serve your strawberry liqueur on its own in dessert wine glasses, or serve it suspended with fresh cream in a shot glass. Or, place 60ml of liqueur and 60ml of cream in blender half filled with ic.  Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

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