It’s that time of year again…time to start the gift making in earnest, and for the past 2 years I’ve made batches of homemade liqueurs for friends and family, namely Cranberry and Orangecello. Decoratively bottled, handmade liqueurs make wonderful gifts, will keep at least a year (if not used up well before that) and are really fun to make.
By far and away my favorite liqueur is the Cranberry and it’s a terrific way to use this seasonal berry for something more than as a side to turkey…not that I don’t love my cranberry sauces and chutneys. Not only is this the most beautiful color when bottled, but it’s oh-so-enjoyable to sip on a cold night by the fire, is lovely drizzled over ice cream, and best of all, plays well with others to make a mean and tasty cocktail!
I’ll share some cocktail recipes when the liqueur is ready, but meanwhile here’s how you make this always welcomed gift. This recipe is from the 2008 December issue of Cooking Light and it’s a winner! This year I’m going to add a twist to it by making a double batch and putting some of my favorite flavors, orange and spice, into one of the batches…I think it will make a different and interesting liqueur! I’m adding the zest of two oranges, and in a risky last minute move, I’ve decided on these spices: a 2-inch stick of cinnamon, one whole star anise and 5 cloves (I think I’m still in the five spice frame of mind, somehow). I love anise flavored liquors and am hoping this will make a unique and tasty addition, but only time will tell. I’d recommend on your first try that you go with the straight cranberry liqueur recipe, or you can try the addition of some orange zest with no spice. I’m making myself the guinea pig, and I’ll let you know how my experiment turns out!
It takes about 3 weeks to bring this to fruition, so let’s get started.
Cranberry Liqueur (Cooking Light) Makes 4 1/2 cups
- 2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
3 cups vodka
Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and cool completely.
Place cranberries in a food processor; process 2 minutes or until finely chopped. Combine sugar mixture and cranberries in a large bowl; stir in vodka.
Pour the vodka mixture into clean jars; secure with lids. Let stand 3 weeks in a cool, dark place, shaking every other day.
Strain the cranberry mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl, and discard solids. Carefully pour liqueur into clean bottles or jars.
Liqueur can be stored refrigerated or at room temperature for up to a year.