July 4th has come and gone and the year is rocketing into its second half.  Before you know it, it will be September and time to send the kids back to school and return to work.  We’ll look up and Thanksgiving will be upon us, and, before you know, Christmas and other end-of-year holidays will have pounced.

So, while it’s hot, let’s think about making holiday presents –early enough that there won’t be any last minute rush and soon enough to take advantage of end of summer sales for interesting bottles and containers.

One of my first postings was about making limoncello, a lemon flavored Italian liqueur.  Well, you don’t have to limit yourself to lemons.

High summer is the perfect time to make fruit and berry liquors.  Fresh fruit is now abundant, in the supermarket or at pick-your-own farms.   So why not take all that goodness– apricots and peaches, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries-you get the idea-and make liqueurs to give away as presents during the holidays.

The wonderful thing about making liqueurs is that it is surprisingly easy. All you need is fruit, alcohol, sugar, a large glass container and time.  I recommend using vodka because it won’t overpower the flavor of the fruit, but you could use rum or other hard alcoholic beverages.  Just remember, the more distinctive the alcohol, the less fruity will be the finished product.  I’d start with vodka but experiment.
1 ½ lb. of fruit

½ gallon of 100 proof vodka (it doesn’t have to be the premium stuff)

A clean, wide-mouthed 2 quart jar glass with a lid.  (I used a bail lid jar that has a wired top and rubber seal.)

A simple syrup made from 4 cups sugar and 4 cups of water (You won’t need this for 40 days, but it’s here to let you know that it is part of the recipe)

Rinse the fruit or berries.  Cut fruit like peaches and pears into smaller pieces. Place berries or fruit in your glass container of choice, add vodka.

Cap and store in a cool, dark place, stir once a week for 40 days.

At the end of 40 days, add the simple syrup, recap and mellow for another 40days in a dark, cool place.

If you want, at this stage, you can strain the liquid that has large pieces of fruit like peaches or pears through a colander and use the fruit, with sugar added to taste, as a grown-up ice cream topping.

At the end of 80 days, you’ll have a finished product good enough to pour into decanters or glass bottles.  Cap them and give them away as presents.

The liqueurs can be enjoyed right away, but the flavor will improve the longer you keep them.  I’ve got a bottle of limoncello that is two years old and my Italian friends marvel at its subtlety and smoothness.

Till next time.

Melkam  Megeb.  Bon appetit.  Buen provecho. Mànmàn chī! Guten Appetit!  Dober tek!  Selamat makan! Nush olsun! Svādiṣṭ khānā