Honor your summer fruits by turning them into liqueur

Illustration for the article titled Honor your summer fruits by turning them into liqueur

Photo: Claire Bass

Fruit liqueurs don’t have the best reputation. Like with flavored vodkas, most options available for purchase taste sickening and artificial. But homemade fruit liqueur can be a wonderful thing – all you need is fruit, vodka, and simple syrup.

Fruit liqueur is one of the easiest alcoholic drinks you can “make yourself”. There is no fermentation or distill and barely measure. You just need to lightly mash some fruit in a few cups of vodka (or other spirits) and let sit for a few days, then strain the solids and sweeten with simple syrup.

The procedure will vary slightly depending on your fruit. Soft berries release their juice more easily than a firm melon, but most juicy fruits will do the job in two or three days. Crunchy fruits like aapples and pears can take up to a week—although I have seen recipes that recommend a whole month—and orange liqueur is best made with peels, not fruit, and can take several weeks to steep. The method we are discussing today is best suited to juicy summer fruits like berries and melons, and stone fruits like peaches and nectarines.

I used an approximate ratio of two cups of fruit (chopped if necessary) for two cups of alcohol and one simple syrup cup. Vodka works well, especially if you want a fruit liqueur, but sometimes I will supplement with a little cognac, especially if I’m making a berry liqueur. You can also mix two different fruits together, or mix herbs, citrus zest, peppercorns or cardamom pods for a more complex sip, play around and create your own recipes. (I added a big sprig of tarragon to my Hood strawberry liqueur, and it ended up being a really good decision.)

To make a liqueur from juicy summer fruits you will need:

  • 2 cups of fruit (Keep berries whole; cut the melon and stone fruit into about 1 inch pieces)
  • 2 cups alcohol, either all the vodka or 1 1/2 cups vodka and 1/2 cup brandy
  • A few sprigs of herbs or a few slices of citrus zest (optional)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water

Add the fruit and alcohol to a large jar or other airtight container and lightly mash the fruit with a wooden spoon. Place in a cool place out of direct sunlight for 2 to3 days.

Give your mixture a taste to see if the fruit passes. If it’s not quite where you want it, let it steep another day. Once it has enough fruit flavor, prepare a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Let cool completely.

Filter the solids while the syrup cools by passing it through a mesh sieve to remove larger pieces of fruit, then through a fine mesh sieve covered with cheesecloth to remove smaller particles.

Once the alcohol is filtered out and the syrup is cold, add half a cup of the syrup to your fruit infused ethanol, stir and taste. If you want it sweeter, add more syrup. Once you’ve reached the sweetness level, pour it into a pretty bottle and refrigerate for 24 hours. Sip, stir in cocktails or splash in bubbles. Fruit liqueur can be kept for at least two month.


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