After several blogs on the topic of Blackberries, I went out into the garden this afternoon, and pulled yet another 250g of the juicy gems. So, another Apple and Blackberry Pie? Nope, seeing as Mr Saturday Night and I had virtually demolished the last one between us (thank goodness for that visitor yesterday lunchtime, to take the bad look off it..)
I think it’s time to break out the drink. So, following a happy half-hour trawling the internet, Blackberry Liqueur it is then.. I’ve settled on this recipe by Mary Cadogan, so let’s see how it goes for us..
The big advantage of this Blackberry Liqueur is that it’s ready very quickly – as opposed to Sloe Gin http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/sloesall-you-need-to-know/ which will take several months to become perfect.. You can have this up and ready in a matter of days – although it’s recommended to keep it for several months… but there’s no harm in a taster, right?
- 1 very large sealable jar – I use a 1 litre Kilner jar, which has a wide opening so it’s easy to get the blackberries in and out.
- A sieve, some kitchen paper or muslin.
- A bowl to drain the liqueur into.
- Some sterilised bottles – or just one, depending on what you want to do with it.
- a small-lipped jug to decant it into the bottles.
- A wooden, or other large spoon (see picture below!)
- 400g to 500g blackberries
- One 75cl bottle of nice red wine – I’ve seen Merlot recommended
- 400g caster sugar
- a big glass of Gin or Vodka – about 250mls? – Actually I looked at 250mls, and it looked a bit scary, so I’m going with 150mls, but if you’re tougher than me, fire away with the 250mls)
METHOD: Couldn’t be easier..
- Wash and closely inspect each blackberry for wildlife – you really only need to do this for wild blackberries, but it’s a good policy anyway. This actually takes very little time – check out my ‘To clean blackberries’ section below.
- Drain the fruit on kitchen paper
- Then put it into the jar
- Add the wine, then stir and press the blackberries against the side of the jar to crush them.
- Cover tightly and leave in a cool, dark spot for 2 days or so. Give it a shake every now and then. Check the seal first! – I recommend shaking it over the sink – you can never be too careful!
- After the two days, drain the whole lot through the sieve into a bowl or jug, then through the paper towels or muslin, to thoroughly remove every last little piece of fruit. (See NOTES)
- Pour the strained liquid into a saucepan and add the sugar.
- Heat gently, stirring all the time until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Simmer for 5 minutes or so. Then cover and cool completely.
- While it’s cooling, you can sterilise the bottles.(See NOTES below)
- When the Blackberry liquid has cooled, add the gin or vodka, then bottle up.
- You can use this straight away, but I’m assured by virtually the whole of the Internet that it’s better if you keep it in a cool dark spot for a month or so! However, I’m not going to judge you.. 😉
To clean the blackberries:
- The easiest way to do this, and I’ve done it with every blackberry I’ve picked, is to put the fruit into a large glass or ceramic bowl in the sink.
- Add cold water from the tap, until the water reaches the top of the bowl.
- Most of the wildlife will float to the top, including the little black specks which are actually part of a wild blackberry plant.
- Swish the fruit around gently once or twice to make sure that all non-required items have been dislodged.
- Let the water settle for a minute, then scoop off anything that’s floated to the top.
- Then take a handful of the berries at a time, and check each one before you put it into a sheet of kitchen paper to drain.
- CAUTION! Blackberries will stain everything they come in contact with, so be sure to wipe up any spills immediately, and make sure that the lid is on tight before you shake the jar!!
- Bottles should be sterilised. (Put them through the dishwasher, or wash with hot soapy water, rinse well, then in either case, put them, and the lids into a warm (100degrees fan) oven for 15 minutes.
- I’ve seen notes where people use the drained blackberries in a crumble or pie afterwards, so bear that in mind when you’re draining the fruit – although mine was a bit sad-looking when I’d finished with it, so I didn’t bother.
- I intend to keep some of this for ourselves for Christmas, but the rest is destined for friends and family. Therefore I’m packaging mine in 250ml bottles. I got 4 filled bottles today from this recipe – AND that little jug of leftovers, for me and Mr Saturday Night to have a wee taste 😉
- Remember that this is a liqueur, and tastes like lemonade, but isn’t!
- So either serve it in small shot glasses, or dilute it with something (I’m thinking Prosecco, Gin and Tonic, or even soda water, or ginger ale)
- Label it clearly, and keep it out of reach of the kids.
- As a liqueur, it’s perfect for using in cocktails such as a Bramble, or for drizzling over sponges for a fruity Trifle
- This will keep for about a year, (if it makes it that far!)