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 1/2 cups of sugar or honey with 1 1/2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Stirring to prevent the sugar from burning on 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.