Raspberry Liqueur: Nectar of the Gods

My beloved gives the nicest spontaneous gifts. A CD I happened to mention and then forgot, local flowers, little pastries, he's thoughtful and generous... and likes to make them a surprise! He is especially good at digging up strange and interesting books for me. A few years ago he gave me a copy of Homemade Liqueurs, by Dona & Mel Meilach (Contemporary Books, 1979). It tells you how to make liqueur from just about anything--peanuts, black tea, caraway seeds, you name it. (It also has a second section about how to cook with liqueurs.) I find homemade fruit liqueur to be a fabulous holiday gift. It's also a sweet way to sit back and remember summer sunshine during the long dark evenings of @#$%-ing February. This raspberry liqueur is my favorite so far from the book, because it tastes so exactly like fresh raspberries--times 100 and plus booze. Here are the basic ingredients:
  • 2.5 cups of fresh raspberries (lightly rinsed)
  • 5 cups vodka (any kind)
  • 1 organic lemon (look for a nice firm skin)
You'll also need one 1/2 gallon canning jar, some kind of grater or zester and a long-handled spoon.

ingredients

Part 1. The first step will take about 20 minutes plus 1 month. You just need to get the berries soaking. Zest the lemon and add it to your jar.

zest

Add the berries and lightly "bruise" them with your long-handled spoon. You do NOT need to mush them to a pulp. It's OK if some are still intact. Just press them around for a bit to "open them up" for the vodka.

mash

Then, add the vodka.

vodka

You're done. Put the lid on tight and turn the whole thing upside down a few times to mix. Then put it in a dark place for 1 month. (It's OK if you leave it for longer, too.) The trick is, you have to remember to shake it at least every week or so. By "shake" I don't mean agitate like you're making a martini. Just gently turn it over and swirl it a bit so everything moves around. Tip: If you don't have a dark place, just wrap your jar in a few layers of newspaper to keep the light out. Another tip: Put a stickie note on top with the date you started. I also recommend jotting down how many cups of raspberries & vodka you used.

On the left here is my raspberry-liqueur-in-the-making, ready for the dark place (aka closet). It will sit there next to the blueberry liqueur (right) I started a few weeks before. (4 cups blueberries, zest of 1 lemon, 3 cups vodka.) Here endeth part 1.

liqueurs

Part 2: This step takes about 30 minutes plus 4-6 weeks. I don't have photos yet but will just outline it here:
  • Make 1 cup of simple syrup by heating 1 cup of white sugar with 1/2 cup water.
  • Strain your fruit-vodka mixture through cheese-cloth. An easy way to do this is to set some cheese cloth over a bowl and pour everything in. Then pick up the corners of the cheesecloth and SQUEEZE to get out as much of the juicy red booze as you can. (You can save the left-over fruit in the refrigerator indefinitely--just put it in another canning jar and cover with brandy. Good for serving over ice-cream or eating by the spoonful late at night.)
  • Return the strained fruit-vodka to the canning jar and add the simple syrup. (If you can give it some time to cool, that's great.) Swirl to mix.
  • Return it to the dark place for 4-6 weeks to "mature."
  • Sip and savor. One winter I gave bottles of this as gifts. I just funneled the liqueur into mini wine bottles (from the brew supply store) and topped with craft corks. Customize cool labels if you want!

3 comments:

Alice said...

You are so much better and so much more accessable than martha. I love you. I have a question: i thought simple syrup was equal parts water and sugar? Let us know how the blueberry tastes.

valleywriter said...

Mmmm... the raspberry & blueberry liquors sound wonderful - and the book sounds like a fabulous find! Now I know why you suggested I try making my own rum cream when I was lamenting not being able to find it locally - you're a homemade brewing extraordinaire!

"Prof. Kitty" said...

Thanks! Yes I do love to homebrew, especially if it's easy! Alice, I thought simple syrup was half & half too. That's the way I make it for margaritas for example. (Yes, I have a secret margarita ingredient--SUGAR!) But the book I'm using has that different ratio. Not sure why (more sugary I guess), but it does work!