Here in Alaska, it is still deep winter, with hip-high snow over the strawberry beds and temperatures well below freezing. Every summer, when the harvest gets too hectic to handle, I might get to picking berries, but not processing them. So I throw them in the freezer in a gallon ziplock.
The wonderful thing about this, is that now, when I really need a taste of summer, I can pull out a bag. The frozen berries work great for smoothies, or to create a quick sauce for a cheesecake or pancakes. Or I can whip up a batch of preserves if we have run out.
So, here’s my recipe for strawberry liqueur. It takes a few months to a year to be ready to drink, but believe me, it is well worth the wait.
Mash 6 cups of strawberries in a glass jar or a crock with an air-tight lid (this will yield about 3 cups of mashed berries.) If using frozen berries, allow them to thaw a little before mashing. Do this by hand, careful not to crush the seeds, or the drink will be bitter.
Pour 3 cups of Everclear (I like liqueur with a kick – you can use vodka if you prefer a less potent liqueur.) over the berries and mix. Seal the lid and store it in a cool DARK place for a minimum of two months. Any light reaching the berries will leach them of color. Check the mixture a few time and shake or stir to make sure all the fruit pulp is covered with alcohol.
After two months, it is time to strain the fruit. Make a sugar syrup by combining 1/12 cups of sugar or honey with 1 1/2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Stirring to prevent the sugar from burningon the bottom, boil until the sugar dissolves. Allow it to cool, then add it to the berries.
Run the liqueur through a jelly bag. DO NOT SQUEEZE the bag. If you do, the liqueur will be cloudy. You MAY however, eat the berries and pulp – it is great over ice cream.
If you want crystal clear liqueur, strain it a second time through a coffee filter set in a mesh colander. You may need to change out filters a few times as they clog with fine particles.
If not exposed to light or air, the liqueur will keep a long time. Don’t ask me how long, because it tends to disappear pretty fast around here.
© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.