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Anyone starting any summer time liqueurs and cordials?

Over the past few weeks I have been going wild starting liqueurs for the holiday season. So far I have:

Banana
Ginger
Honeysuckle Flowers
Jalapenos
Lychee
Lemoncello
Limencello
Orangecello
Marmalade (from homemade candied honeybell orange peels)
Peach
Pear
Raspberry
Strawberry
Rumtopf (mixed fruits in rum)
Leoninch (dried cranberries, dried apricots, toasted almonds, toasted walnuts)
Sweet Saunf [Pudina extract (Mint) marinated, sugar paste covered, toasted Indian Saunf (aniseed)]
Ataulfo "Champagne" Mangoes
Kiwi Fuit
Turkish Coffee
Cranberry
Green Tea
Cape Gooseberries, dried
Apricot, dried

I plan on making a couple of liters of all fruits as they come into season this year, and also some vegetables and flowers. I am thinking day lilies next.

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  1. Could you tell me more about how you make these?

    1. First, before you start, make sure that you write down and save notes of everything you do, and at what point, over the weeks and months it takes to make these beverages. This will help you repeat sucesses or improve the product over time.

      For a small batch, when I try a recipe for the first time, I take a 1 liter canning jar and fill it about 3/4 full with rough chopped fruit and a teaspoon to tablespoon of fresh citrus juice such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc. (For limoncello and other citrus zest based liqueurs you use only the citrus zest with absolutely no white pith and about 10% of the juice.) I try to imagine what flavor of citrus would go best, but this small an amount really adds no discernable flavor to the finished product. Lemon seems to add the least flavor in the long run, so I use it most often. The citrus adds acid which keeps the fruit bright and fresh looking and tasting and also makes the flavors stand out more.

      I then fill the jar right to the top with vodka and seal it. Don't chop the fruit too fine. This will get more flavor from the fruit but means much more filtering at the end. I sometimes leave the fruit in larger chunks so I can use the fruit at a later time as a desert over ice cream or cake. You can also use rum, whiskey, gin, etc. instead of, or for part of the vodka. It's all up to what gives you a thrill and you think will be tasty. I suggest using at least 3/4 vodka to start.

      Then you put the sealed jar in a cool dark place for 2-6 weeks. Shake the jars every few days to mix them up. I usually age it at least 4 weeks. Then strain out the fruit and filter the liquid. If the fruit is in chunks a strainer or colander will get out the big chunks. I then use a clean bandana or old bedsheet or other fine cloth and pour the liquid through this. If it doesn't go through easily I twist it up in a ball and squeeze it until all the liquid is removed from the fruit pulp. Then I filter it through coffee filters in a funnel several times until reasonably clear. It doesn't have to be totally clear at this point.

      Here's where you decide whether you want infused vodka or a liqueur. For infused vodka filter until clear, bottle and let age at least 2-4 weeks.

      For a liquer make a simple syrup of equal parts water:sugar. Add this to the fruit/vodka liquid to taste. At least 1:2 syrup to fruit/vodka liquid and up to 1:1. When it tastes right or even a bit too sweet you then seal it in jars for at least another month to age and smooth out. You may need to add a bit more citrus juice to bring up the acid level depending upon the fruit.

      It will get slightly less sweet and acidic tasting during the aging. It can be drunk at this time but the longer it ages, up to a year, the smoother and better it gets. Filter one more time or until clear and bottle. You will end up with around 1 1/2 - 2 liters of liqueur.

      Serve straight up in liqueur glasses, on the rocks, or use in cocktails. You can also use it in recipes for cooking and baking that call for syrups or liqueurs.

      3 Replies
      1. re: JMF

        What should I do now... I've had loquat halves sitting in about a pint of vodka for about a year. Didn't use any juice to keep the fruit bright. Currently it's very light amber, not cloudy, fruit light tan. Anything to worry about? What would be the tastiest thing to do with it at this point?

        1. re: Cinnamon

          just stumbled upon this thread again after several years. Since then I went pro, but still learning through trial and error works best.

          Filter the loquat infusion through coffee filters until clear, then taste. See if you think it needs sugar, more alcohol, or a few drops of lemon juice. Then let us know.

          1. re: JMF

            Will do. Just read your blog info - congratulations on the new gig!

      2. It is the perfect time to make nocino, a green walnut liquor. Usually you can find them at farmers markets in June and July.

        1 Reply
        1. I haven't started any yet, but I intend to. When blackberries come in, I plan to try my hand at some blackberry brandy, and I may do something with some stone fruit, as well. I'm also planning to make vin d'orange again. It's a fortified red wine flavored with roasted dried orange peels, based on a very old provencal recipe, that's better the longer it gets to age before it's strained. It's a delicious chilled as an aperitif.

          One sweet liqueur I like as a flavoring for a cocktails or to pour over ice cream or for flavoring yogurt, ricotta, etc., that's not season-dependent is dried apricot liqueur. It gets really good apricot flavor, and the booze-soaked apricots are terrific eating afterwards, too.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Hi, Caitlin, could you elaborate on how you make the dried apricot liqueur? That sounds great.

            1. re: ChristinaMason

              Hi Christina, it's quite simple: Make a simple syrup from a cup each sugar and water and allow to cool to room temp. Chop a pound of dried apricots and put them in a 2-quart or larger jar, and add the simple syrup, 3/4 cup each brandy and 100-proof vodka, the zest of an orange, and a pinch of ascorbic acid. Stick the jar in a cool, dark place for a month, then strain it through a metal sieve, pressing on the apricots. Add simple syrup if you want it sweeter. Filter into bottles. Makes 3 to 4 cups. The apricots will absorb a lot of liquid and retain a good amount of flavor, so they're very worth eating, plain or in dishes.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  This sounds fabulous! Late to the party, but I'm in.

            2. My orange/coffee liquer is coming along well. The sugar has dissolved, and the vodka is taking on a golden tone. I can't believe I only have abou 17 more days left in this 44 day recipe!

              (Pei, formerly known as nooodles)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Pei

                I was given this recipe over the christmas season. It was called 44 liquer. How did it turn out?