Sunday, February 6, 2011

Recipe: Who knew the nectar of the Gods was coloured red?

Homemade liqueur is a taste sensation well worth the wait

Many years ago I experienced the elixir of the Gods. Well, not quite, but close. Our local liquor stores had marked down a product they were discontinuing: Lejay-Lagoute Crème de Fraise (Strawberry) Liqueur. It came in a beautiful crock bottle, sealed with red wax and encased in a wooden box. The image at left is their current packaging.

What taste. Some liqueurs have a hearty dose of alcoholic afterburn, but not this. Picture a mouthful of wild strawberries. Now you have the experience.

Well it was a sad day when they finally sold off all their stock (mostly to me I imagine), and I missed it terribly. You can ask the liquor store to import for you, but you have to purchase a minimum of one case. 

So I looked around for a homemade recipe. I tried several "duds". It's not that they weren't good, it's just they lacked that smooth non-alcohol berry taste of the Lejay-Lagoute. One recipe called for the berries to steep in the vodka for one month until the colour had leeched out. Grey strawberries are not a pretty sight...

I finally found one that comes close. You have to have the ripest, flavoursome berries you can find. That's usually a little while after the start of the season, although I have found imported berries in the fall/winter that have worked quite well. Some day I'll round up enough wild strawberries to try it. Then I hope it will be perfect.

This liqueur is extremely easy to make. The problem is that it disappears so quickly. That's OK, because I wouldn't recommend having any homemade liqueur hang around for more than 6 months. No worries about that.

Homemade Strawberry Liqueur

Ever-bearing Alpine strawberries
1 box of strawberries (cultivated or wild)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
750 ml vodka (your favorite, but I prefer Luksusowa Luxury Potato Vodka*)

Wash, hull and slice the berries. Place in a non-reactive bowl, such as glass or ceramic.

Heat the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Let boil for 1 minute.

Pour the syrup over the berries and mash. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 week. After 1 week strain and discard the pulp. You should have about the same volume of liquid as you do vodka.

Combine with the vodka, strain again, bottle and let sit for 1 week before use. Take care. It has a kick.

Serve in champagne or martinis, or just by itself on the rocks.

Note: Sometimes after a while a cloudy sediment develops. No worries. It's only because the first two strainings didn't get all the fine berry pulp out. Simply re-strain, wash  the bottle and pour the liqueur back in.

* Luksusowa is available at Bishop's Cellar on the waterfront. It has a less harsh taste than grain-based vodka, and costs the same or less than many other vodkas.

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1 comment:

  1. I had a peppered strawberry champagne cocktail at a restaurant and tried to find it online, but couldn't. I then found out that the restaurant made it in house, so I did too. My recipe was very similar. Adding a little bit of black pepper was fantastic and cut the uber-sweet strawberry taste really nicely.