Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Never mind home brewing. There's a lot to be said for home liqueur making, which is what I've been doing all morning.

It started last year. I had this allotment which was somewhat over-run with blackberries. So after blackberry ice cream, blackberry crumble, blackberry coulis, blackberries and cream, apple and blackberry pie... I decided to try a liqueur. Looked up cassis in my Larousse Gastronomique.

Ok, I know cassis is made from blackcurrants. I'm South African. Is there really any difference? They're both berries, and they're both black. Good enough for me.

So I had to mix 1 kilogram of blackerries (that's a lot of blackberries, let me tell you, they don't weigh very much) with 1 kilogram of sugar and add it to 1 litre of brandy, with some cloves and cinnamon. Put it into jars, and leave it for a month.

So far so good. Except it's now 9 or 10 months later before the next step.

This is quite easy. You have to strain and filter the contents of the jars, add sugar syrup to taste if it's too strong, and bottle.

This had me a little puzzled. How can liqueur be too strong? I had to taste, of course, to see if this was the case. In fact, I had to taste from both jars, just in case I had made two separate batches, as I couldn't quite remember. I don't know about too strong. They tasted fine to me. Very fine. Exceedingly fine. Though I concede the second jar may have yielded a slightly more tannic liquid. Better have another glass just to verify that...

Right, so no sugar syrup. I bottled up one jar, ready for after dinner. Or before dinner. Or tea. Whenever.

I had it in mind to make a blackberry cream liqueur with the second jar. Just for some variety. I like cream liqueurs, especially Baileys, despite the high evaporation rate.

So I found my cream liqueur recipes, which were mostly quite similar, but differed slightly in quantities.

I started with 1x397 g can of condensed milk, and 1x170 g can of thick cream, which I mixed until smooth. Of course, I had to taste this to make sure the proportions were right. The recipes mostly called for around 300 g of cream, but I didn't want anything too sickly. And of course, I could always add a second can of cream if needed.

Time to start adding my blackberry liqueur. Some recipes called for 250 ml. I added this much and had a taste. I thought it needed more kick. Another recipe called for 450 ml, so I added another cup. I had to taste that too. Mmmm. Nice. Very nice. However, I still had half a cup of neat liqueur left. I considered just drinking it, but then caution got the better of me and I added it to the cream mix. And had another taste. Just in case I now had to add more cream.

It tasted just fine to me. I've put in the fridge, not because it needs refrigeration - I did use canned cream after all - but because I thought it would taste better cold.

An hour later, I tasted again to find out the result, and I can say with confidence that slightly chilled is very good.

It has now just gone lunchtime.

If you don't read any more blogs from me for a few days, you'll understand why.