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This process often starts a few months before the holidays, when the fruit is particularly fresh. But even if you get a late start, there’s still time to use fall fruits like apples and pears for holiday liqueurs this year.
To Make These Fruit Liqueurs:
Here are simple directions to make these easy and delicious liqueurs in your home:
1) First wash your glass mason jars and lids in hot soapy water and dry completely.
2) Fill your jars half-way or three-quarters full with washed fruit. I used strawberries, blueberries, champagne grapes and raspberries from my garden, at the peak of their flavor. Use your imagination. If using frozen berries, don’t defrost the fruit before infusing.
3) Fill the bottles with vodka, rum, cognac or other spirits. The berries will rise to the top. In most cases, I prefer a clean-tasting vodka, which doesn’t have a strong taste that will compete with the fruit. If you are using spices, you might prefer stronger flavored vodka or other spirits to complement the flavor. This year, I also infused apples in French cognac to make an apple brandy.
4) Close the lid tightly. And place the vodka in a dry, cool place away from direct sun. Shake daily.
5) If you can, allow your fruit to infuse at least a month. Typically, I infuse fruit about two to three months to bring out the full flavor, color and aroma. But the fruit will start flavoring the vodka even earlier. So, if you’re short of time give it a shot anyway. Incidentally, herbs require less time to infuse, about a week or two. Spices like caraway seeds or peppercorns should usually only be infused a few days. Too long and they can overpower the flavor. If the taste becomes too strong, dilute with plain vodka.
6) Strain your vodka into a large glass measuring cup or bowl, and press down on the fruit to release the liquid. Pour the liquid into fresh, clean bottles and decorate them with your own handmade tags.
That’s it! Your fruit flavored vodkas are ready to give to someone special. Whip up a couple bottles of this spiked delight and see if you don’t become famous for your garden-fresh spirits too.
Note: I prefer my liqueurs unsweetened. But you can make honey syrup and add a dash to your finished liqueurs to sweeten them. To make the honey syrup, mix very hot water and honey in equal parts until the honey is melted. Store unused syrup in a sealed container refrigerated for up to two weeks.