Thursday, September 11, 2008

Herbal Cordials or Liqueurs

We recently held a class on Herbal Cordial making. This special event included the directions to make your own, and provided the opportunity to sample some home made cordials and liqueurs. If you want to do-it-yourself, the three basic steps for making liqueurs are steeping, sweetening and aging.

Steeping

Using a wide mouth jar, steep herbs, fruits, nuts, seeds, roots, or flowers in an alcohol base. Many types of alcohol are used: grain, vodka, rum, brandy, champagne, gin, whiskey. Steeping time is anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. At that point you strain and add the sweetener.

Sweeten
The main sweetening agent is a simple syrup: 2 parts sugar to 1 part water, boiled together for 5 minutes and then brought back to room temperature. Make extra and store it in the refrigerator. As a general rule add 1 C sugar syrup to 3 C alcohol or to personal preference. For a thicker “crรจme de” consistency double the amount of sugar syrup and you can also add some glycerin or add 2/3 C fructose and corn starch. Also note that the greater the amount of sugar syrup the lower the alcoholic content of the liqueur.
For example:
1 C sugar syrup added to 3 C 80 proof vodka produces 60 proof liqueur.
2 C sugar syrup added to 3 C 80 proof vodka produces 48 proof liqueur.

Aging
Finally an aging period of a few weeks to a couple of months allows the beverages to mellow and the full flavor to come forth.

RECIPES:

Tea Liqueur
1 T good quality tea leaves, we like earl grey or darjeeling
1 ½ C vodka
½ C sugar syrup

Steep the leaves in the vodka for 24 hours only.
Strain, filter, and add sugar syrup. Ready in 24 hours!


It’s Berry Good
10 oz package of berries, strawberry, raspberry or any berry (fresh or frozen)
1 ½ C Vodka
¼ C sugar syrup
Steep berries and the juice in the vodka for one week.
Strain and filter.
Taste and add sugar syrup as needed.
Note: Many frozen berries are pre-sugared.

Surprise some of your friends with a homemade liqueur. These elegant cordials and liqueurs make great gifts! Make some now, let them age, and then package them festively for the holidays. Your friends will thank you profusely!

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