make: fruit liqueurs

i posted this over on instagram today, but i thought i would share with those of you that don’t follow me there!

ohio is in the grips of some extreme cold weather, and i spent the day housebound. is my first winter back north starting to wear on me? certainly. i can’t tell you the last time i was able to talk myself into going hiking, and many days i rarely leave the house. i am tiring of eating grocery store produce and having to exercise indoors. some days being at work is downright miserable with the wind chill, and my skin and hair are tore up from the exposure.

yet there are lovely moments nestled in the bleak, dark cold. today i caught dusk out my bedroom window. the horizon radiated pale, muted oranges and yellows that blended into the white-blue winter sky. i would love to capture those colors in a quilt. the snow dusted trees picked up soft light reflected from the sunset, and for just five minutes i felt totally at peace.

i’m also getting a ton of reading done, and read five books just in january!

something else that brings me joy in winter is foods and drinks successfully put up from peak harvest season. with such a mobile 2018, we didn’t put up hardly any food. but there are still some things. apple butter. walnut wine (which i already finished). and blackberry liqueur.

we love all things fermentation, but haven’t had great luck with homemade meads and wines. both processes are complicated and involved, and after all the work something always goes wrong that sours our batch. which is why i’m becoming interested in a new way to put up in-season fruits – making liqueurs.

the process is very simple and doesn’t involve any of the hassle (controlled environments, sterilization, yeast management) of making a mead or wine. at bare minimum, you only need three ingredients – a neutral spirit (vodka), fruit, and a sweetener. our first liqueur, the blackberry one, used just vodka, blackberries, and honey, and it came out delicious. it was a big hit at holiday gatherings. recently, i decided to experiment with a pomegranate liqueur, simply because we had an excess of pomegranate seeds in our home.

here’s how you make it. start with a clean quart sized mason jar. wash your fruit, and process it – cut it up into small chunks, or smash it up depending on the fruit. and fill up the jar 1/2 – 2/3 full of fruit. cover with vodka (we use tito’s). you could also use rum, i’m coming to enjoy it as a neutral spirit. add any additional spices or flavorings. cap and let this sit out of direct sunlight for a full moon cycle (4 weeks). shake daily. strain, and return liquid to the jar. add 1/2 cup honey or 1 cup simple syrup (1:1 ratio sugar to water). mix well, and let this sit for at least a month and up to a year. it will improve with age.

the possibilities of different combinations of fruit and spices are endless. lemons would give you the italian liqueur, limoncello. orange and vanilla bean. pears and cloves. you could add herbs, too. or just used herbs! mugwort liqueur sounds pretty good. i think this is a simple, nice way to put up the harvest for the darker days.


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