Updated with prettier pictures of the finished projects & much blushing to see this included on the PPK 100 for 2012!
Finished products: lemongrass & mint, cherry brandy and plum & blueberry.
Apparently I now host homemade liqueur tastings in my apartment. Bar design by J. Legume
Every summer there’s a fruit that takes precedence above all others in my life. I have room for them all, but there’s that one I just can’t get enough of. One year, it’s plump blueberries, the next, juicy strawberries, the next, Oregon’s tart marionberries, or sweet, rich blackberries… of any variety I can get my hands on. For me, the summer of 2012 was the summer of the cherry. Chelan, Rainiers, Bings, Stella…whatever the farmers markets happen to be offering that day. I was loving them fresh, baked into muffins, added sweetness to sauces, starring in pies, crushed into cocktails, soaked in brandy, pitted and frozen for this winter, and possibly the most glamorously, as the base of brandy and liqueurs. Fast forward three months, and my array of homemade liqueurs are nearly ready, and naturally, more than one features my favorite fruit of the summer.
Just like this project, the photos themselves are definitely with their own DIY charm. I’m going to put them into classy jars any day now…
The local-bar-in-progress includes:
- Italian Prune & Plum
- Plum & Blueberry
- Brown Sugar & Peach
- Lemongrass & Mint
- Cherry Brandy
- Cherry & Cranberry
- Blackberry Brandy
More about DIY fruit liqueur:
The basics are incredibly simple – combine sugar, fresh fruit and liqour in a jar, and let sit. With the three jars of brandy, I let the fruit absorb the sugar for 24 hours, and then added the liquid. The lemongrass and mint, unlike the jars that still contain fruit, were strained after 48 hour period. All of the fresh produce was locally sourced, and many are hand-picked, with the exception of the lemongrass and cranberries.
Because I’ll be straining the fruit, I do not pit anything. And because I’m cheap, I’ve bottled amounts in small mason jars (halving the ingredients below), and opted for truly bottom shelf vodka and brandy over pure grain alcohol. If your fruit is of a more sour variety, then your liqueur will echo that. And so on, for a sweeter variety, so use what you prefer – or if you’re open, simply use whatever you have local access to.
At the end of cherry season (go figure), I was able to pick up several pounds of late season cherries for a discounted price, and there went the remainder of my mason jars. My apologies to the lentils.
- 1 lb. fresh fruit, rinsed (if you’re using whole, soft fruit, such as plums or cherries – make sure to pierce a few times; if you’re using apples or another firmer fruit, slice)
- 3 cups vodka (use half brandy if you’d like to make a brandy)
- 1.5 cups granulated sugar, preferably white
This is the very gist of how to go about doing things. As I mentioned above, there are slightly different steps you can take and of course, flavors combinations that you can consider.
If you’re making a liqueur, combine the fruit, alcohol and sugar, and let sit for several weeks, stirring well and shaking on a regular basis. Let strain, and sit another few weeks. It’s all that sugar that technically makes what you’re doing a liqueur.
If you’re making a brandy, combine the fruit and sugar, and let sit for 24 hours, add the alcohol, and repeat the above procedure.
You can strain after several weeks, or a short handful of months, for a richer flavor.
Strain well, and a few times, if need be, and bottle well. Most importantly label your results, and share with friends.
Use in cocktails, desserts, in salad dressings, or whatever else you fancy.
Hey, you’ve got a good month til the end of the year – get to work!