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THE COTTAGE JUNE 2001 ISSUE

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The Crones Kitchen

Making Ritual Beverages

As witches we all know, after every ritual its time for cakes and ale. This months Kitchen explores making our own cordials for ritual and celebration.

Cordials- cordials are basically fruit and or herb flavored liqueurs. I find them much easier than home made wines with much less muss and fuss.

Fruit Cordials.(Recipe)

Author/s: Inger Skaarup
Issue: July, 2000

With intense flavors and rich colors, these delightful drinks capture the essence of the season for enjoyment any time of year.

Demands are heavy on the summer garden's fruit and berry harvest. Summer fruits are called on to pack jams and jellies with flavor, sparkle in fruit pies and tarts, complete compotes and entice diners with a never-ending succession of fresh fruit desserts. If you haven't also tried your fruits and berries in making fruit cordials, you are missing a great opportunity to preserve the flavors of summer.

Fruit cordials are easy to make, allowing you to enjoy the natural rich flavors and color intensity of summer any time of the year.

Preparing fruit cordials is a time-honored endeavor; these drinks have been made and served for centuries. Early American settlers came with recipes and learned to adapt newfound ingredients to create old-world flavors. Fruits, along with herbs and spices, were commonly used to flavor the drinks served for pleasure or taken as potions for reputed medicinal benefits. A single taste of a cordial, packed with lush fruit flavor, should be enticement enough to continue this richly rewarding garden harvest tradition.

Fruit cordials are the perfect drink for both formal and informal occasions. For special events, serve guests your home-brewed liqueurs with pride. This old-fashioned drink lends itself well to being served with a certain amount of circumstance indicative of gracious hospitality -- a pretty glass decanter, sparkling glasses, starched linens and delicate cookies.

A cool presentation on a hot day is equally fitting for this delightful drink. Serve it in a tall glass with ice, perhaps topped off with tonic or sparkling water, as a refreshing way to end a day's work in the garden.

In the kitchen, substitute your own bottled creations in recipes where other liqueurs are suggested. Try them sprinkled generously over fruit-filled crepes, used to moisten pound and layer cakes, splashed over fresh fruit dishes, in fruit sauces, used to flavor whipped cream and fruit-studded ice cream. Another tasty way to show off your cordials is in luxuriously rich ice cream toppings, sweets and confections such as truffles. They are equally dazzling in festive punches and cocktails and great used as flavoring in hot chocolate and coffees on cold winter evenings.

With a shelf full of fruit cordials, the summer season won't end with the picking of the last vine-ripened berries. These luscious and beautiful spirits will let you drink a toast to the garden's harvest -- as well as the gardener -- any time you want to celebrate the glorious taste of summer.

Making fruit cordials is a simple process of infusing alcohol with fruit flavor, much like steeping tea leaves in hot water. As the natural, fresh sweetness of the fruit blends with the punch of the alcohol, the cordial takes on the intense flavor and sparkling color of the fruit. Although these delicious drinks are simple to make, they require a certain amount of precision in measurements and procedures to obtain the most flavorful and clearest finished cordial.


The spirits called for in the following recipes are pure grain alcohol, vodka and bourbon or brandy. Although most brands of grain alcohol are practically tasteless, vodkas, brandy and bourbon have differing tastes according to the distiller. Select a smooth liquor with a flavor you like. The water added to the liquor base also may affect the taste of the finished product, as water quality and flavor vary. Use distilled water for the best result.

Brewing fruit cordials does not require any special equipment. You will need a large container for aging -- big wide-mouthed glass jars with tightly sealing lids or ceramic crocks with lids are ideal. (Do not use plastic containers or plastic implements as the flavor of the plastic or previously stored food or liquids may be transferred to the fruit cordial.)

For the initial fruit preparation, you will also need a wooden spoon, glass measuring cups, metal measuring spoons and a metal funnel.

Following an aging process, strain out the fruit pieces through a metal colander or fine wire-mesh strainer. To remove the finer fruit particles and sediment, line the strainer with a fine straining material such as unbleached muslin cloth, jelly bags, linen cloth or several layers of cheesecloth. The cloths may be washed and reused. Some liqueurs may also be strained through disposable coffee filters, although several of the recipes will produce liqueurs too thick for this method to be effective. The filters may disintegrate before straining is complete.

If these straining methods do not adequately filter out the fine particles and sediment from the liqueur, try siphoning off the clear liquid. Begin by placing the cordial container on a level surface to allow the sediment to settle. Using a long piece of plastic tubing, carefully siphon off the clear liquid into a clean container. Discard the sediment at the bottom of the drained container. Repeat the process, if necessary.

If you plan to make a large quantity of cordials or will give some as gifts, you may consider investing in a wine filter as it produces the clearest cordial possible. Available in winemaking equipment and supply stores, wine filters work by a siphoning method that forces the liquid through a very fine, changeable filter.

Finally, for the finished fruit cordials, you will need an assortment of clean bottles. Wine bottles, with screw lids or clean corks, are most convenient for storage purposes. For girl giving, use smaller, unique bottles available in kitchen and import stores, as well as in winemaking shops. For a tight seal, use new corks, which can be purchased in many sizes in hardware stores. Corks will allow the cordials to evaporate, however, so for long-term storage, seal the corks with wax.

The recipes indicate the minimum aging time suggested for each type of fruit cordial. After this aging time, the fruit cordial is ready for cooking purposes. You may want to age the liqueur a while longer before drinking, to take the edge off the alcohol and mellow the flavors. If properly sealed and stored in a cool, dark place, fruit cordials will keep for about three years.

Bottle up one or more of these liqueurs. Whatever your selection, the result will delight you every time you pour a glass of homemade fruit cordial


BASIC LIQUEUR (CORDIAL) RECIPE

The basic process involves using fruit to provide the basic flavour, and adding a distilled spirit and sugar. The fruit was usually pressed by hand (or feet) and mixed with sugar (though sometimes allowed to stand alone.) The spirit was added and allowed to mellow while picking up the characteristic of that particular fruit. Exotic essences were added when making special cordials. This basic recipe is designed as a very simple ("I have no clue, and can't find a recipe") recipe from which to start all cordials. It is very similar to ones in the CA Guide to Brewing. I have found that using a good quality vodka (not Popov, ~- use Absolut, Smirnoff, or Finlandia) makes a big difference.

2 lbs fresh fruit 2 cups 100 proof vodka 1 cup sugar

Throw it all in a blender, and puree it well. Pour it into a bottle and let it sit for 2 to 3 weeks. Strain out the pulp, and then filter through a coffee filter. Some liqueurs may need to age some more, but most will be ready to drink. A great number of recipes call for either a pinch of cinnamon or 1 vanilla bean. If you think this might add to the taste or enhance the fruit taste, by all means try it.

One method I use to extract more flavour from the fruit is to freeze it. Because water expands when it freezes, freezing will rupture the cell walls in the fruit, thereby releasing more of the essence of the fruit.

ADDITIONAL TECHNIQUES

Sugar syrup is used for many recipes. The ratio is 1 part water to 2 parts sugar. Boil together for about 5 minutes, making sure the sugar dissolves. -The syrup must be cool before adding to the alcohol mixture, as heat evaporates alcohol.
1/2 cup water + 1 cup white sugar yields 1 cup syrup. One cup syrup plus three cups 80 proof vodka equals 60 proof liqueur. Two cups syrup plus three cups 80 proof vodka equals 48 proof liqueur. If using grain alcohol (190 proof, use twice as much syrup, with an extra 1/4 cup of water per cup of syrup.

Summer Crafts, Making Cordials, Harvesting Herbs, The Horned God, Lemon Balm, Amethyst, Mead Moon,

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LEMON LIQUEUR

2 Lemons 3 cups Vodka 1 cup sugar

Peel lemons with parer so that peel is one continuous strip. Place peel and vodka in jar with tight-fitting lid for 1 week, occasionally shaking. Remove peel and add sugar. Let stand another week before drinking.
(CA Guide to Brewing)





Strawberry Cordial

Recipe By : Making Cordials & Liqueurs at Home, J.P. Farrell
Serving Size : 1 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Cordials & Liqueurs Fourth

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 Cups Fresh Strawberries
2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
2 Cups 80-Proof Vodka
1/4 Cup Sugar Syrup

Stem and cut the berries into two or three pieces. Place in a jar and
sprinkle with thepowdered sugar. Pour the vodka over the berries and let
steep for one week. Strain through a wire strainer, crushing the berries
to extract as much juice as possible. Add the sugar syrup and filter
through cheesecloth and enjoy.

HERB AND SPICE FLAVORED LIQUEURS
It is easy to make delicious fruit and berry liqueurs. It is, however, more difficult to produce herbal liqueurs with good flavor, mainly because the flavor of a single type of herb or spice is very distinct. In addition herbs often contain a mixture of wanted and unwanted flavor compounds.


In the 15th to 19th centuries liqueurs made by just one type of herb or spice were more common. These liqueurs were used for their "medical" properties and not for their flavor. Today the medical use of liqueurs is limited, as far as I know the principal "medical use" is to improve the digestion, for example by drinking bitter liqueurs which are common for Germany and Italy. However, the amount of herb or spice needed in a "medical" liqueur might be so high that the flavor will not at all be regarded as good.
Sugar syrup
For herbal liqueurs it is best to use a sugar syrup which is made as follows: In a saucepan combine 1 lb. (450 g) sugar, 1 cup (2.4 dl) water and 1/4 tsp. citric acid. Heat the mixture and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to simmer on reduced heat for 15 minutes.



The principal herbs and spices used for making liqueurs at home are the following:
Allspice (Pimenta Dioica Merr.) - berries
Angelica (Angelica Archangelica L.) - root and seeds
Anise (Pimpinela Anisum L.) - seeds
Cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum Maton) - seeds
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bl.) - bark
Cloves (Eugenia Carophyllata Thunb.) - flower buds
Coriander (Coriandrum Sativum L.) - seeds
Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare Mill.) - seeds
Gentian (Gentiana Lutea L.) - root
Hyssop (Hyssopus Officinalis L.) - leaves
Juniper (Juniperus Communis L.) - berries
Lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis L.) - leaves
Marjoram (Origanum Majorana L.) - leaves
Oregano (Origanum Vulgare L.) - leaves
Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita L.) - leaves
Star anise (Illicium Verum Hook.) - seeds
Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris L.) - leaves
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa L.) - root
Vanilla (Vanilla Planifolia Andr.) - seeds



ANGELICA LIQUEUR RECIPE

Ingredients:

1 tsp. dried marjoram
2 green cardamoms
7 1/16 tsp. ground allspice
1/16 tsp. ground star anise
1/16 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/16 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 apricot kernel
2 fl oz (0.6 dl) vodka
-------------------
1/2 cup (1.2 dl) sugar syrup
(see below)
1 cup (2.4 dl) vodka
-------------------
2 Tbsp. fresh or dried angelica root
2 fl oz (0.6 dl) vodka


In a mortar grind the cardamom seeds and half an apricot seed. Mix with other spices (except angelica root) and place in a tight glass jar or bottle and add 2 fl oz (0.6 dl) vodka. After one week filter through a coffee filter. Combine with sugar syrup and 1 cup (2.4 dl) vodka.

In a separate small glass jar combine the angelica rood with 2 fl oz (0.6 dl) vodka. After two weeks filter through a coffee filter.

Add small portions of the angelica root extract to the liqueur until you get a suitable flavor. Check the flavor after 2 months. If necessary add some more sugar syrup, vodka, or angelica extract.


Melissa Liqueur


2 tsp dried lemon balm
sliced and scraped peel of lemon
a pinch of coriander
a pinch of cinnamon
2 peppermint leaves
1 cup vodka
cup sugar syrup
Place all the ingredients in a bottle and steep 3 weeks. Shake the jar daily during the steeping period. Strain and filter into a dark bottle, adding more sugar to taste. Mature for 2 months.

Sugar Syrup
1 cup white granulated sugar and cup water
Bring to a boil, and stir until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Always cool before adding to alcohol mixture. (Homemade Liqueurs)

Rose Geranium Raspberry Liqueur

2 pints raspberries
1 cup rose geranium leaves
4 cups vodka
cup white wine
1 cup sugar
cup water

Combine the berries, geranium leaves, vodka and wine in a large jar with a
tight-fitting lid. Set in a cool, dark place to steep for 1 month. Crush
berries slightly with potato masher or wooden spoon and let steep for
another 4 days. Strain the liquid, pressing as much juice as possible from
the berries, and then filter. Use a coffee filter or a double layer of fine
cheesecloth to get a really clear liquid. Boil the sugar and water together
in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved; cool and gradually stir into
liqueur, tasting as you go. When the liqueur has reached desired level of
sweetness, bottle and age for an additional 3 weeks in a cool, dark place.
It will also continue to age and mellow for at least six to eight months
after theyve been opened.

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