Homemade fruit liqueurs offer an interesting twist on using seasonal ingredients. If you’ve had enough of jamming and pickling, liqueurs are a more adult alternative. Here is a selection of recipes making the best of the current season’s crop. Homemade liqueurs also make fantastic, colourful wedding favours in miniature liqueur bottles.
For all the recipes you will need a few pieces of basic equipment:
- A selection of clean muslin cloths
- A funnel
- Wide necked, 2 litre screw top jars, sterilised
- A range of large and miniature liqueur bottles, sterilised
- A needle
You will need as many strawberries as it takes to fill a two litre jar, carefully washed and dried. Give each berry a few pricks with a needle as you put it into the jar. Once the jar is full of strawberries, fill up to about a third with caster sugar then fill the rest of the jar to the top with gin. Seal and store in a cool, dark place for at least three months. When you are ready to use the liqueur, open the jar and strain the mixture using a clean muslin cloth, through a funnel into your liqueur bottles.
You will need about 1lb of sugar and 2lb of plums, washed and stalks removed. If you freeze the plums first, it makes straining easier later on. Place the plums into a large jar, alternating with layers of sugar. Fill the jar to the top with brandy and seal it well. Store the jar in a dark place at room temperature and give it a good shake every day to help the sugar dissolve. After three months, strain the liqueur through a muslin cloth into liqueur bottles and return to storage for another month before using.
Blueberry Vodka Liqueur
Wash 500g of blueberries and prick the skin of each with a needle. Place the fruit into a jar and add 100g caster sugar, one clove and the zest of a lemon. Fill the jar to the top with vodka and seal. Leave in a cool, dark place, shaking every day for the first two weeks to help the sugar dissolve. After 4-6 months, strain the mixture through a muslin cloth and pour through a funnel into bottles.
Sterilising your liqueur bottles
Always sterilise your jars and bottles before using to avoid potentially dangerous contamination. Put the bottles and jars in the oven on a low temperature for about 15 minutes, put them into a pan of boiling water on the stove for five minutes or run them through the dishwasher on a hot cycle.