Saturday, July 31, 2010

Raspberry Liqueur


When I was in high school, a friend of my father's introduced us to the previously-unknown world of Spanish cooking. She brought us paella and sangria, and strange as it may seem in these days of global cuisine, I don't think I'd even heard of them before. But of course, regardless of your level of familiarity, these foods are pretty easy to love.

After we enjoyed the feast (Exciting! Exotic!), there followed a few days of leftovers. A tupperware container of boozy fruit sat in the fridge, and I would pull it out after school. Now mind you, I was a seriously lightweight teenager. After a day or so, my mother figured out why I was giggling through the house, and cut me off. "Deena!" she admonished, "This is not a snack!"

I have a similar problem when it comes to this raspberry liqueur. It's so delicious, so sweet and full of deep berry flavor, that I just want to sip it all day. Which would have the unfortunate results of

a) depleting my raspberry liqueur stash
b) leave me ready for bed by around 7pm

And so, I have to constantly check myself. Deena, this is not a snack!

But oh, is it lovely. Like rhubarb liqueur, this is ridiculously easy to make. Easier, arguably: you don't even have to chop the fruit. Just give the berries a quick rinse, toss them in a jar with grain alcohol, and let sit for a few weeks. Strain, sweeten and dilute, and you're ready to go. When you're as busy as I am catching up on the local arts, you appreciate the ease. Perhaps someday I can find another (preferably non-boozy) snack I like half as well.


Raspberry Liqueur

as with my rhubarb liqueur, this is more a loose template than a recipe, easily adapted to whatever quantity of raspberries you have

raspberries
grain alcohol
sugar
water

Rinse the raspberries and place them in a glass jar. Pour in enough grain alcohol to cover by a few inches, screw the lid on, and allow to steep 3-4 weeks. Over this time, the flavor and color will leach out of the raspberries, leaving the alcohol a deep ruby color, and the raspberries a weird ghostly pink.

When the raspberries have finished steeping, strain them from the alcohol, discard, and filter the solution through several layers of cheesecloth or, preferably, coffee filters. Measure the final amount of alcohol -- this is your base number. In a saucepan, heat 1.5 times that amount of water, and 1/4-1/2 that amount of sugar, depending on how sweet you like things (note that this is less sugar than required for the puckery rhubarb). To give an example: 4 cups raspberry alcohol would need 6 cups of water and 1-2 cups sugar. Let the sugar syrup cool, then add it to your filtered alcohol. Taste (the flavors will be a bit harsh), and add more sugar if desired. Let age for at least a month before enjoying. Raspberry liqueur keeps at any temperature, but is especially delicious straight from the freezer.

17 comments:

  1. Ohh, Deena, it is NOT a snack!!! I am having exactly the same problem with your amazing rhubarb liqueur! It calls to me, I swear! (And it almost feels like I'm drinking something healthy... which is also a problem.)

    Unfortunately for me, I fear that I'm recently allergic to raspberries. It's a new thing, and I have eaten a few, but I wouldn't dare make this liqueur, or I'd be in true trouble. This is a really beautiful drink, and I wish I could have a "thimbleful" just to taste, *sigh*. Guess I'll just have to wait for your next liqueur-ish adventure!

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  2. Mmmmm....I did this with sour cherries last year. It was fantastic! I'll have to get myself some raspberries, the cherry crop was light this year and the glass jar looks lonely. Thank you for the inspiration!

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  3. Cakewalk: Bummer on the raspberry allergy. But with rhubarb liqueur to console you, you'll pull through.

    Anna: I somehow entirely missed the sour cherries this year. Sigh. I'll have to try en-boozing them next year -- that's got to be lovely.

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  4. Sounds delish! Wondering, where do you get grain alcohol?

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  5. Betheny: In Oregon, you can buy grain alcohol at the state-run liquor stores (although for some unknown reason they keep it behind the counter). You should be able to find it wherever alcohol is sold -- it may be labeled as neutral grain spirits, Everclear, etc. It's just an extra-strong neutral liquor (twice the proof of vodka), that does a great job of pulling the flavor out of whatever you're infusing.

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  6. You can't buy grain alcohol in Pennsylvania - not even at the state stores.

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    1. Take the trip over to Connecticut. Most stores there have it.

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  7. Advice for those of us who can't buy grain alcohol: what do we use?

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  8. You can always use vodka if the powers that be are keeping you from the good stuff. Aim for the highest proof you can find (vodka usually ranges from 80 to 100 proof). The infusion will probably take longer, and you won't need to dilute it much at all in the end.

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  9. what kind of godforsakenhellhole doesn't allow the sale of grain alcohol? nightmare. you need a Uhaul. anyhoo....this is delightful. thank you so much for the ratio tutorial. and the new snack recipe. party on.

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  10. This sounds yummy! I never thought of rhubarb and that is a favorite for pies for me. I make cranberry liqueur. Try it!!! Donna

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  11. okay stupid question- can I use this to make raspberry martinis? And how do I do it?

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    1. Hm I'm not sure purists would define the end result as a martini (even with dry vermouth it would still be fairly sweet), but I'll bet it would delicious! Let me know the results if you experiment.

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  12. making a wedding cake with rasberry filling, and adding this homemade brew too! yummy, will let you know!

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  13. THROW OUT THE LEFTOVER BERRIES??!??!??
    NEVER may that be!
    Just go ahead and try those leftover berries on I've cream. (If you've got them sweet enough).
    Or in your morning cereal if you want your belly nicely warmed up.
    I suspect there could be a gazillion other fine things to use them for but, throw them out? Not a chance.

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    1. I squeezed out every last bit of liquid from them before I discarded them. Cheesecloth would work I think; I used a nylon stocking.
      - Frank P

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  14. Thanks Deena! I tried this last year with vodka (being a Pennsylvania resident). It was pretty good but I didn't like the vodka flavor.

    This year I had grain alcohol. (Don't know how that happened... one day the stuff magically appeared in my trunk after a trip to New Jersey.) And I added a couple of ingredients found in Chambord: vanilla (I used extract) and cognac. The cognac gives it an extra layer of flavor and a nice finish. You can add both of these at the end to taste.

    I also make mine sweeter - 1:1 water to sugar. My wife thinks that's too sweet, so I'll scale it back a bit next time.

    I just finished a batch and it is lovely. Will see if it gets even better with age.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    - Frank P

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