In the final installment from Canning and Preserving Your Own Harvest, we celebrate with a recipe for RASPBERRY CORDIAL. As summer comes to a close, and we start thinking about the coziness of winter, I know that the taste of raspberries will be a treat this holiday season!
Infused liquors are simple to prepare but require excellent ingredients. Don't expect finesse in your finished product if you start with cheap spirits; choose quality, but by no means do you need to use "top shelf" or premium brands. Begin with a base of brandy, vodka, gin, or grain alcohol-wine, beer, and fortified wines are not sufficiently strong enough to prevent spoilage. Fruits, herbs, and spices must be fully ripe and flavorful and impeccably fresh and clean for a superior result. Marry the fruit with the character of the spirit or choose an unflavored pure grain alcohol to let the unadulterated fruit flavor shine on its own. It is important to steep and bottle your spirit infusions in nonreactive ceramic or glass containers, as metal or plastic may impart off flavors. Sweetening buffers the harshness of some spirits as well as dilutes the finished alcohol content.
A warming nip of summer for a cold winter's night-sip neat or add a splash to a flute of champagne for a twist on a traditional Kir cocktail.
Season: Mid- to late summer
Yield: About 4 to 5 cups
Store: Cool, dark pantry
4 cups fresh raspberries, picked over, rinsed, and drained
1 quart vodka
Simple syrup to taste (see bottom of page for recipe)
Put the berries in a bowl and crush to a coarse purée. Transfer the berries to a 2-quart glass jar and fill to the very top with vodka; exposure to air during steeping may cause fermentation and spoilage. Seal the jar and place out of direct light to steep for 8 to 10 weeks, gently agitating the jar and its contents several times a week.
When you are satisfied with the fruity strength of the flavor, strain the infusion through a sieve lined with dampened cheesecloth into a bowl. Discard the berries. Add G to 1 cup simple syrup, depending on whether the finished liquor is meant to be blended with other mixers or sipped neat; adjust to taste.
Using a funnel, pour the cordial into clean, dry bottles and securely cork or seal to prevent evaporation. Store in a cool dark place; age for at least 4 to 6 weeks to allow the cordial to mature and mellow.
Recipe for Simple Syrup
"Simply" sugar dissolved in water, this syrup is perfect for sweetening many kitchen preparations such as fruit salad as well as iced tea and other beverages.
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature, seal in an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.