These are recipes from my notebook. These are liqueurs that I have made in the past, occasionally including variations, preparation notes and tasting notes. Many of these recipes originated in other books, but often I have made them my own over time.
Many years ago, I accidentally made an absolutely wonderful blueberry liqueur. And, like all great discoveries, I completely failed to write down the process I'd used to get to it. And I've been unable to recreate it since, until now.
Most blueberry recipes I've tried call for fresh berries and subtle spicing. And for me, they always come out anemic. I usually won't even bother bottling them, since I know I wouldn't want to serve them to anyone. But the very first recipe I made was hearty, thick, and over-the-top with cloves. It was a joy to sip.
So over the years I've been experimenting with mixes of wild and cultivated blueberries, fresh and frozen, and with the ratios of vodka, berries and syrup. It just never seemed to come out right. My try last December was pure chance. With, for some reason, no fresh blueberries available in the store, I bought a 16-ounce bag of frozen berries. We let them thaw completely, and then tossed them in the vodka with some lemon peel and too many cloves. Five months later, I've just bottled my one precious bottle, and it was wonderful.
But the alchemy, I think, comes from what happens to berries when they're frozen. They get pureeed, on a cellular level. All that water crystallizing pops all those little plant cells, and lots of microscopic structures get broken down. Some things get converted into sugars, too, but the real deal is that the berries turn mushy and break down, from a macroscopic perspective, quickly in vodka. And I think that that disintegration of the berry is what gives this liqueur all its body. It's a keeper. And maybe if I can make enough of it, we'll call it a signature flavor.
Let blueberries completely thaw. Pour berries and any juice from the bag into a bowl. Crush with a fork, and put in a 1-liter jar. Add vodka, lemon peel and cloves. Steep for 3 months, shaking gently every couple of days to prevent settling.
Strain and filter. Add syrup to liqueur, and age for at least 1 month. I aged for almost 3 months, but it looked good to go sooner. I just got distracted. When bottling, filter again.
Yeah, it's an amazingly simple recipe considering how long it took me to recreate it, but I had to first get overmy preconception that fresh berries would be even better. You might try dropping the sugar just a little, but altogether it was a delight tasting it today. I'm looking forward to serving it.
measurement (unless stated otherwise)
|1 cup = 8 ounces =
||1 quart = 32 ounces =
|1 tbsp (tablespoon) =
1/2 ounce = 15ml
||1 fifth = 25.6 ounces = 750ml|
|1 tsp (teaspoon) =
1/6 ounce = 5ml
||1 pint = 16 ounces =