Liqueurs are alcoholic beverages usually 30% of alcohol by volume. They are sweet in nature with a variety of flavours. Ethanol is an alcohol being used for consumption. It has excellent extracting capabilities from organic compounds such as fruits and herbs, which is what we are after. The color, flavor and aroma will come from the type of fruit used . To make things interesting and certainly more robust, combination of two or more fruits will produce some interesting liqueurs to say the least.
If we incorporate some of your favorite cooking extracts to this equation the possibilities are endless. All of the liqueurs, whether natural or extract, have several main ingredients; the alcohol, sugar and some type of flavour. Cherry Liqueur: this is the all time favourite, so we will use it as the main example. Take 1 kg (approx.
2 lb.) of whole sour cherries, remove the stems, and wash them (fresh, pitted cherries are excellent as well). Organic cherries would be the best choice, however if none are available, make sure that you thoroughly wash the fruit. The majority of orchards use pesticides during the growing season.
Pesticides, being organic compounds, will end up in the liqueur unless you get rid of them. Place the fruit in a sealable container, 1 gal. jar will suffice, and pour 1 kg (approx.
2 lb.) of white granulated sugar over the cherries. Pour Vodka, 40% by vol.
, so that fruit is approx. ¾ "- 1" submerged. The sugar will sink to the bottom and cherries rise to the top with spacing in between. This is normal.
Seal the container and leave it for several days. Shake the jar several times to blend all the ingredients. Repeat this every other day or whenever you think of it.
If you do not shake it, do not worry! The results will be the same it will just take a bit longer. Once the sugar is dissolved and you are happy with the color the liqueur is finished. Strain it through the fine mesh strainer (cheesecloth. will do) and pour it in elegant bottle. It is ready to drink. The cherries will have some kick to them and provide excellent garnish on desserts such as ice cream.
They are also delicious to eat, as is. The sugar that you added will produce the sweetness, typical of the liqueurs. If a less or sweeter liqueur is desired adjust the quantity correspondingly. The fruit will give the colour and aroma to the liqueur. The alcohol and sugar will extract the juice from the cherries, which have enough volume to dilute the alcohol content of the liqueur to approx.
30% (it is approx. due to the variance of the juice content in the fruit). The amount of time that it will take will depend on the sugar content and the temperature.
Do not worry about the spoilage or fermentation since the sugar, in high enough concentration, will act as a preservative plus the alcohol content is high enough so that the bacteria or yeast cannot survive. This method will work on any fresh fruit. Excellent results are obtained using the berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.) peaches (sliced), apricots (sliced), pears, apples, bananas, coconut, oranges (peeled), nectarines, etc.
Some fruits, such as apples, should be cored and seeds taken out. Seeds of apples contain small amounts of cyanide, which you do not want in the liqueur. Cyanide is poisonous.
Interesting aromas and flavours can be obtained by blending two or more fruits. You are the creator so any combination is perfect. Some herbs such as mint yield delicious liqueur.
Take ½ lb. of fresh mint add 2 lb. of sugar, ¼ litre of water and place it in a 2 quart jar.
Top it up with vodka and proceed as for fresh fruit. If more or less "minty" taste is desired, adjust the quantity of fresh mint correspondingly In your local wine supplier store, you can purchase liqueur extracts. To make liqueur you can use your favourite cooking extracts, such as vanilla, concentrated juice, food colouring can be used to enhance the colour, etc. Extracts, as the word suggest, is the extraction of flavours, colour, and aroma from particular fruit, or the combination thereof, purified, and concentrated. Most often, however chemicals are added for enhancement.
Mirko Davidovic is CEO of http://www.fyi4u.net and http://www.winemakingplus.com, with formal education in Chemical Eng.Tech. , Biochemistry and Psychology. Mirko's main objective is to empower individuals to achieve their goals, celebrating with their own exquisite, mouthwatering wine.