I love summer berries, but I’m not a big jam or preserves eater. I like to preserve the look, color, and taste of these summer treats in a different way. Fruit cordials make wonderful gifts and, with their beautiful colors, are very pretty to have on display. There is something special about presenting a gift of a liqueur that you made yourself, and sipping on a cordial is a nice way to end a meal.
Why would you want to do this?
This is an easier way to preserve berries than making jams or preserves, and the cordials can be used in many ways, not just in drinks. They can be given as gifts, used as natural cough syrups, or poured over ice cream or cake as luxurious dessert toppings. Some flavors can also be used as ingredients in exotic marinades or glazes.
Your homemade version will cost about half of what a store-bought bottle of liqueur costs—even less if you use your own homegrown fruit.
Further refinements/learn more about it:
You can take this to a higher level by experimenting with different fruit flavors or trying recipes for flavors other than fruit, such as Irish cream or coffee. Two good references areMaking Liqueurs for Gifts(A Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin, 1988) by Mimi Freid andThe Joy of Home Wine Making(William Morrow, 1996) by Terry A. Garey.
The book that I use as my cordial/liqueur bible,Making Liqueurs for Giftby Mimi Freid, distills (pun intended) the cordial-making process down into three simple steps: steep, strain, and filter. That’s about it.
The final yield of this formula will be a little more than a pint of cordial (you won’t be using the entire quart of vodka because volume will be taken by the berries). These proportions can be easily adjusted, depending on what you have available.
When you collect your materials, try to use fruit that is ripe but not overripe. Either pick your homegrown fruit or get fresh fruit from a pick-your-own farm, a farmers’ market, or a grocery store while the fruit is in season. “Off” flavors can be transmitted to the drink easily, and you want your cordial to have the best fruit flavor possible.
This article was excerpted with permission from the book Urban Farm Projects: Making the Most of Your Money, Space, and Stuff, copyright 2014, I-5 Publishing, LLC. For more budget-friendly and environmentally conscience projects and recipes, pick up a copy today!