The other day I was given a 28 pound bucket of previously frozen local raspberries that were going to be thrown away because they were too mushy to use. I took them home and threw them in a carboy (a carboy is a glass vessel used for fermenting, like a large water jug) with some pectin enzyme, sugar, yeast nutrient, and two packs of wine yeast. It was kinda last minute because we were supposed to leave early the next morning for three days and I didn’t have any way to store the bucket of raspberries while we were gone. It became a rather comic and messy business of getting 28 pounds of raspberries and 10 pounds of sugar quickly boiled in water into that small carboy. My wife had to shove the raspberries down the funnel with a chopstick while I poured them in, trying not to overfill the funnel and spill raspberry juice all over the floor. I would have used a larger 6.5 gallon carboy for the raspberry wine, but the two I have were being used at the time. In the end we had a very full carboy that looked like it was full of jam with all the raspberries floating around. The next morning I went down in the basement to grab a few things to load into the car and found that there had been a raspberry eruption overnight. I spent the next forty minutes cleaning up with a shop-vac and a mop. I then had to peel a raspberry splattered layer of insulation off the ceiling. In the picture you can see the raspberry wine on the left after it settled down a bit. In the middle is some mead made from local honey and on the right is a kriek lambic using cherries from my neighborhood.
Since the eruption I went down to Northcorner Brewing Supply and bought a large plastic fermentation bucket that is ideal for primary fermentation with fruit. I also bought a larger funnel with a strainer, no more chopstick plunging I hope. Overall the experience was a bit of a nightmare, but a learning experience and a funny story all the same. I’m sure that it will turn out well based on my previous experience with erupting beer. My third batch of beer was an imperial stout that launched all over the living room wall, over the stairs, and fourteen feet up on the vaulted ceiling. I called it Mt.Vesuvius Imperial Stout and it was voted “best beer in the porter/stout category” at Best of the Bay homebrew competition.
This morning I made some blackberry cordial with my neighbor’s recipe and I think it’s going to be great. I got some of the ingredients from Wonderland Teas on Railroad ave. and the blackberries from my neighbor’s yard. Here is the recipe I got from my neighbor, I don’t know where she got it from so I can’t credit who wrote it, sorry.
Blackberry Cordial (makes 1 quart)
4 cups blackberries
3 cups bottled water
4 whole cloves
3 black peppercorns
3 cardamon pods, lightly crushed
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into 2-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups cognac or other brandy
In medium saucepan combine berries with water, cloves, peppercorns, cardamon, cinnamon & bay leaves. Bring just to a boil then reduce heat. Cook for 30 min. on low heat. while gently crush the berries against the side of the pan. Strain berries through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl without pressing the berries. Stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Let cool. I used a large metal bowl and cooled it by making a ice water bath in my sink, then placing the bowl in the sink and stirring the cordial it cooled very quickly. Once cool stir in brandy and pour into bottles. Seal bottles tightly and store in a cool dark place for two weeks before serving.
My wife and I bought some cool little bottles and stoppers at North Corner brewing supply and they will make great gifts. You can pour the cordial straight into the bottles, I didn’t have mine yet so I put it into two large canning jars. I noticed a small amount of sediment on the bottom of the jars so I will probably strain it one more time when I bottle it.
Want to learn more about making your own liqueurs? I have a great little book to suggest, Classic Liqueurs, the art of making and cooking with liqueurs by Cherly Long and Heather Kibbey. I believe it says in the book that they live in the Pacific Northwest so many of the recipes will be easy to make with local produce. It also has recipes for cooking with the liqueurs you can make, so a fun little book. There’s so much fruit getting ripe right now, it’s a great time to make wine, beer, mead, liqueurs for the fall and winter. Feel free to bring me samples at Boundary Bay. Cheers!