Make Your Very Own Flavoured Liqueurs
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Published by TOP4 Team
Herbal and fruit liqueurs are simple to make and an excellent way to use up home-grown produce or plentiful fruits in season. Homemade versions will be just as delicious as shop-bought brands, livening up a whole range of dishes and desserts – and they make great gifts, too.
When making liqueurs, use fresh, high-quality ingredients and keep utensils and the work area spotlessly clean. Store liqueurs and brandied fruits in bottles or jars.
Container lids deserve particular attention: they must be clean and close tightly.
For steeping fruit in liqueur, you also need large preserving jars with wide necks and a capacity of at least 2 litres.
Add sugar in the form of syrup, white sugar or honey. They will all dissolve with time.
Vodka is a good choice for steeping a liqueur or for preserving fruits. It has a fairly neutral taste, so it helps to release the aroma and flavours of the ingredients. Depending on its strength, you may choose to dilute it with water.
Other spirits such as fruit brandies, gin, tequila, rum or brandy can also be used.
Fruits such as cumquats, strawberries, and sweet or sour cherries are particularly good for steeping in fruit liqueurs. The choice is yours: other berries, small plums, papayas and orange or lemon peel also make wonderful liqueurs.
Fruits are often steeped with the peel intact, so be sure to wash them carefully. Dry each piece of fruits well before use.
If a desired fruit is not in season, frozen fruit works equally well.
Filter liqueurs through tea or coffee filters, muslin a fine metal strainer or through a normal strainer lined with one or two paper towels.
BASIC RECIPE FOR FRUIT LIQUEUR
This is an all-purpose recipe suitable for a variety of different fruits.
1. Add the fruit to a large container together with about 280g sugar per 500g fruit.
2. Once the mixture draws out the juice, pour in the alcohol. Carefully stir and then cover tightly.
3. Let the contents steep in a sealed jar for at least a month, then filter and bottle it.
VARIATIONS FOR LIQUEURS
- Give the liqueur a subtly different taste by using ingredients such as vanilla pods, citrus peel, a piece of ginger, cloves, cardamom pods or a few drops of bitter almond oil.
- Use herbs or spices such as fennel, cloves, coriander, peppermint, anise, ginger, cinnamon sticks, caraway or dandelion, if you like things spicier. Pour about 500ml vodka over 50-100g of herbs or spices, add sugar to taste and filter after 2-3 weeks.
- If the liqueur needs to ferment, you can also add a little high-proof brandy.
- If you want to adjust an excessively strong liqueur after it has steeped, add some fruit or a little sugar and let it steep again. It’s best to add the sugar in the form of simple syrup (one part water to one part sugar, shaken in a bottle until the sugar dissolves), rather than less soluble sugar granules.
1. Cumquat brandy, traditionally served at Christmas in Australia, adds a festive note to any special occasion. The cumquats also makes a delicious dessert with ice cream, but use them within 6 months.
2. Carefully wash 750g firm cumquats and prick each fruit eight times with a needle.
3. Place 1 cup (220g) white sugar. ½ a vanilla pod and 2 cups (500ml) water in a saucepan, bring slowly to the boil over a low heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Add the cumquats, bring the syrup back to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and ladle the cumquats into a large (1.5-litre) warm, sterilized jar with a slotted spoon.
6. Over a high heat, reduce the syrup by half, cool and pour over the fruit, discarding the vanilla pod.
7. Add 4 cups (1 litre) brandy to the jar and seal. Label and store in a dark place for at least a month.
- Fruit steeped in alcohol is delicious by itself, as a garnish for meat and game dishes, and as a delectable complement to fine desserts. But if you are considering driving, remember that fruit is saturated with alcohol.
- Add about 250g sugar per 500g fruit. Reduce the amount of sugar if you want the fruit flavour to dominate.
- Use brown or white sugar crystals to create a unique flavour.
- Layer the prepared fruit and sugar in jars and cover with alcohol.
- If you use a fruit brandy for steeping, make sure the fruit and brandy are a good flavour match.
- When making brandied fruits, avoid cheap brandies as they can spoil the taste.
- If you don’t serve the fruit-infused alcohol with the fruits, you can use it for punch later.
GOOD TO KNOW: STORE LIQUEURS AND BRANDIED FRUIT SAFETY AND SECURITY
Make sure that any alcohol and fruit mixes prepared at home cannot be reached by children. Your alcohol reactions are best kept stored in a dry, dark place – under lock and key – to ensure that they are always enjoyed responsibly.
Seeking inspiration for your next beverage recipe? Invite a friend and unwind at the best pubs & bars Australia today.