Fruit was in abundance this year. We had bumper crops of plums, blackberries, elderberries, gooseberries, blueberries, rhubarb and now figs. As the year goes along I harvest the fruit and usually freeze most of it till the end of the gardening year and then take stock and decide what I want to make with it. In years past with kids and grandkids plentiful a great deal of it was made into pies and jams. With just a couple old people around we don't eat as much jam and pies are not as plentiful on my table as we strive to maintain healthier weights and avoid diabetes in our twilight years. As a result a great deal of our fruit goes into making our oatmeal more appetizing and as healthy snacks of dried fruit and even as additions into protein smoothies. The last couple of years I have started making fruit liqueurs with some of the fruit. We enjoy a small nip at night sometimes together and we give away a great deal of it in decorative bottles to friends and family. Thus far everyone seems to love it.
My first step was to make a trip to the liquor store down the mountain and I bought 2 half gallons of gin. Then when I got home I sterilized 4 half gallon mason jars. To each jar I added about 3 cups of sugar and then thawed out some frozen plums and blackberries. Then once the fruit was thawed out I added the fruit to the sugar and covered with the gin. I added mason jar lids and shook several times a day for about 2 weeks to make sure all the sugar was dissolved. As the sugar melts you may have to top up the gin from time to time. Next I wiped down the jars and tightened the lids and placed them under the kitchen counter into a dark cabinet to sit for a couple months. About February I will take it out and strain the fruit out through first bleached muslin and then coffee filters to remove as much of the fruit as possible. Or you can simply syphon off the top liquid through clear plastic hose like used in winemaking and discard the dregs at the bottom. If done that way I would still run it through coffee filters.
Then I simply put it into liquor bottles that I have saved or you can buy decanters online from Amazon to move your mixture into. I have large gallon jugs that I store mine in and then move it into decanters when I am ready to give it away. Makes great house warming gifts and I always like to tuck some into gift baskets along with a couple decorative snifters that I pick up lots of times at Goodwill or thrift stores.
There are lots of different recipes for this online and on Pinterest using less sugar and such and many different fruits. I think next time I go down the mountain I want to go back to the liquor store and get some vodka and experiment with flavored vodkas a bit. I can't wait till my Nanking cherries grow a bit and make a harvest. I saw where you can do this with bourbon and cherries and think that would make a wonderful tasting liqueur.
Just one more way to use up those fruits when they are plentiful and not get stuck in the jelly and jam rut. And even though O Wise One and I are definitely light weights when it comes to drinking we have yet to give a person our homemade liqueurs as a gift who has not loved and appreciated it.
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter
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