Macerating Fruit

(Note that Macerating is the same as steeping. Apparently macerating refers to cold steeping and infusing to hot steeping.)

Fruit liqueurs are quite straight-forward; simply soak your favourite fruit in your strongest alcohol, with 1 cup of fine sugar to every 1 cup of fruit. Let it soak for a couple of months, then strain off the fruit, and dilute the alcohol down to 20-30%.

Wal elaborates on this technique...
    Came across a method applicable for most fruit liqueurs that was observed in Poland:

    Fruit Liqueur
    • Place cleaned fruit in a large jar.
    • Add alcohol (50%abv) to cover fruit.
    • Seal and macerate for 10 days. The fruit soaks up the alcohol and releases some juice.
    • First racking. Gently pour off liquid so as not to blemish fruit.
    • Layer fruit in jar with sugar (cover most of fruit).
    • Seal jar. The sugar makes the fruit release the alcohol and shrivel slightly. In a couple of days the level of juice in the jar should reach almost to the top of the fruit.
    • Second racking. Pour off liquid.
    • Layer fruit again with sugar
    • Third racking. Pour off liquid.
    • Repeat process until only a very small amount of juice is released.
    Each racking is sweeter and sweeter. Blend the different rackings to get the desired strength and sweetness. The leftover makes a great syrup for ice-cream.

    Another method used is to put the fruit in a large jar, add sugar and place it in a warm place to ferment naturally, using wild yeasts on the skins. The juice is released. Then alcohol is added to stop the fermentation. The alcohol content is usually 20%.

    These are folk recipes that are based on experience rather than exactly measured amounts. You see large glass jars on window shelves everywhere. For those who like exact quantities here is a Cherry Liqueur or 'Liqueur de cerise' (French) or 'Cigliegiolo' (Italian)
    • 1 kg dark cherries
    • 1 litre vodka (50%abv)
    • 350 g sugar
    Crush the cherries and half of their pits (stones). Place in a large jar with a lid. Add alcohol, seal and leave to macerate for one month. Pour the cherry mixture in a muslin bag and squeeze out juice. Filter and add sugar. Bottle to age.

For HEAPs of excellent recipes see Gunthers Liqueur making - principles and techniques. These include Bailey's Irish Creme, Galliano, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, Amaretto, Creme de Menthe, and Drambuie to name a few.
Likewise check out RecipeSource : Alcoholic Beverages
For fun using them with Jell-o, see http://www.boston-baden.com/hazel/Jello/jello8b.html

For more details see A good book is "How to Make Liqueurs" by R.M. Byrne, ISBN 0-86417-384-9 (1991) which i found in our local library.

Is it dangerous to include the pips and stones from the fruit ? Wal explains ..
    Prunus and malus species have cyanogenetic glycosides (amygdalin?), which on digestion release HCN (hydrocyanic acid). You need to crush the stones/pits for this to leach out. You need to eat 50-70 bitter almonds (highest concentration) to kill an adult. Therefore don't eat more than a cupful of prunus and malus kernels. Crushed cherries, apricot, peach and plum kernels are used to flavor liqueurs - it gives a bitter almond flavor. The well known Maraschino does this for example. Small amounts (for flavor) are O.K. as sub lethal doses are detoxified and passed out of the body. They do not accumulate. Your satsuma plum should not release any toxic substances if you don't break the hard shell. Heat destroys HCN, so distilling is O.K.

Fortifying Liqueurs

Wal writes ...
    In winemaking the 'Pearson Square' is used to determine the amount of alcohol to fortify a wine. It can also be used to fortify grape or apple juice to make a ratafia or to increase the alcohol level of a low pecentage batch.

    Here is an example how it works:
    A = alc. content of fortifying spirit. Say 40%
    B = alc. content of exg. wine (or spirit,or if juice this is 0). Say 15%
    C = desired alc. content. Say 20%

    1) C-B = 20-15 = 5 parts of fortifying spirit
    2) A-C = 40-20 = 20 parts of wine
    Therefore we need to add 1 part fortifying spirit to 4 parts wine to get a 20%abv wine.

PEPPERED STRAWBERRY CORDIAL

  • 4 lb fresh strawberries
  • 1 qt vodka
  • 1 1/3 cp sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick (3")
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 peppercorns
Clean and chop strawberries. Place in 1 gallon jug. Cover with vodka. Shake well every day for 1 week. Add spices. Let stand for 2 days. Strain into second container. Add sugar and honey. Allow to clear.

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