Rumor has it the first hard frost will arrive in Wisconsin sometime tonight. We quickly pulled in our tomatoes, peppers, basil and the last bucket of raspberries. After another busy summer on our farm, I’m ready for the frost, the fall, the feeling of relief that life will slow down a bit. It’s the perfect time for a grateful toast in thanks for the abundant harvest as Mr. Snow Miser waits around the corner.
But wait — what should we toast with? In my early homesteading days I experimented briefly with beer and wine making, but my brewing career ranked short. I’m more of a cook than a scientist and couldn’t explain fermentation even if a free dram was on the line. After an attempt to make hard cider turned into five gallons of vinegar, I discovered a much easier form of homemade hooch: vodka infusions.
The basic concept is simple: Take cheap vodka, add fruit and sugar. Cheap vodka works fine for infusions as you are adding flavor through the fruit. While recipes and perspectives vary on how long you need to let the fruit and vodka sit and age, I find more time adds up to stronger flavor.
With that last bucket of raspberries harvested today, I made my annual batch of the Raspberry Cordial recipe below. This raspberry cordial often seconds as an eerie decoration just in time for Halloween. When the raspberries “float” in the vodka during the first step of the raspberry cordial-making process, the vodka turns a rich red color and the clumped together raspberries turn white, resembling a brain floating in blood. Talk about creative recycling.
2 quarts (8 c.) raspberries
2 quarts (8 c.) vodka
2 quarts (8 c.) water
2 ½ c. sugar
* Mix raspberries and alcohol and let sit two weeks in sterilized gallon-sized glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
* After approximately two weeks, strain raspberries into a sieve.
* Mix water and sugar. Heat until dissolved. Mix water and sugar with strained raspberry mixture and stir well.
* Pour into sterilized glass containers and age in a dark, cool spot for a couple of months. Adjust the final infusion based on your personal taste, adding water as needed.
Yield: About 1 ½ gallons
Photo Credit: Lisa Kivirist