Homemade liqueurs and cordials are a great way to get creative with a big crop of fruit. Choose fruits with lots of flavour that don't contain too much water. Melons, for example, would not make a good liqueur. Due to their high water content, the liqueur would not taste of much. Poured into pretty bottles, these homemade drinks are a special and personal gift for your loved ones. Mix them with sparkling wine to make sophisticated cocktails or simply drizzle them over ice cream for a treat. You can also experiment by adding herbs or nuts. You'll never know, you might create a real delicacy.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Fresh, undamaged fruit
- Coarse sugar
- Vodka or other spirits, at least 40 per cent alcohol
- Clean glass bottles with screw-on lids
One of the best homemade liqueurs is blackberry vodka. Fill half a bottle with freshly- picked ripe wild blackberries. Top it up with coarse brown sugar until the bottle is filled almost to the top, then slowly pour the vodka in. It will fill all the spaces between the fruit and sugar. Repeatedly shake the bottle to release trapped air bubbles. Screw the lid on tightly when the bottle is full. When the sugar has dissolved, turn the bottle upside down occasionally to spread the colour and flavour evenly. Leave to soak for at least six weeks before drinking.
Try plums in rum for a warm, spicy, Christmas-y tipple. Cut the plums open to make it easier for the alcohol to soak into them, and then follow the steps listed above. Add some cinnamon sticks, cloves and a piece of vanilla pod. Fill with brown rum and leave to set for at least six weeks. If you make this when plums are in season, it will be ready in plenty of time for Christmas.
Have you got a bounty of cherries? You can use the stones to make your own delicious liqueur. It will taste similar to Amaretto, with a hint of cherry. Fill half a bottle with cherry stones. Take a few and crush them with a hammer, so that the soft centre is exposed. Top up with sugar and fill with vodka. Leave for at least six weeks.
Take Mirabell plums (the small yellow round ones) to make a fruity, summery liqueur. Cut the plums open, leave the stones in and add some extra crushed stones for added flavour. Fill half a bottle, top up with coarse white sugar (if you want a sunny, yellow colour---brown sugar will make it darker) and leave to soak for at least six weeks. It will taste fresh, fruity and tangy---ideal for a summer party.
Cordials are the non-alcoholic counterpart of homemade liqueurs. Instead of relying on the preserving qualities of alcohol, boiling water is used. Use roughly one part fruit, one part sugar and one to two parts water. If you are adding herbs, use one part sugar, one part water and a generous helping of the herbs. The herbs should take up roughly the same volume as the sugar. Put everything into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for several minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture becomes syrupy. After cooking, strain through a sieve, leave to cool and pour into clean bottles.
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