Author Topic: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Blackberry Liqueurs  (Read 4411 times)

Offline Boofer

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My Dad's raspberries were just awesomely huge this season. I remembered in my foggy brain a thread from last year about raspberry liqueur and proceeded to research what I needed to make some. I was thinking, "This would be really nice when it's cold and blustery around December."

I started the raspberry liqueur two weeks ago. Today I started some blueberry liqueur. My local supermarkets had received some large, beautifully plump blueberries from Oregon. I couldn't resist. So I researched what I needed to make the blueberry liqueur.

The process is rather lengthy for each liqueur, but I wanted to put a stake in the ground for somewhat of a photo essay to document the process and subsequent results. I have never done liqueurs before so I am open to advice from those who have successfully gone before.

It occurred to me that after the fruit had been leached of its color, flavor, aroma, and character by the alcohol, that I could place several layers of muslin in my tall Tomme mould, put the fruit in there, and press the goodness out with my Dutch press. That would be the first of many filtering steps.

That's a 2.5 gallon container holding the blueberries.  8)

-Boofer-



« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 10:49:58 AM by Boofer »
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Offline Susie

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2012, 12:58:41 PM »
I am very interested in seeing how this turns out! Fascinating.

Offline MrsKK

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2012, 03:05:41 PM »
We have some Nanking cherry bushes.  The cherries are too small to pit, but they have good flavor.  I've made a similar liqueur with them.  Very tasty.

Offline Boofer

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2012, 07:59:51 PM »
Sorry...this is going to be a wordy posting.  :P

I checked on-line to find a recipe for making liqueur, specifically raspberry liqueur. I had recently finished a bottle of Raspicello and wanted to try to duplicate that delicious libation. The Raspicello lists 26% ABV on its label. I also have not quite finished a bottle of Peachcello with the same alcoholic content. In my freezer I have the last dregs of Lemoncello with a 30% ABV content. Those alcohol contents gave me a target for not just the alcohol level I needed to approach but also the mouth feel and fruit character.

What I found on-line was a collection of how-to-do-it documents and quasi-recipes that all fell short for what I needed to do justice to this drink. One of the first things that popped out at me was that a liqueur called for the addition of a “Simple Syrup”. I soon found that it was not so simple. Some recipes called for a one-to-one ratio of sugar to water, while others called for a two-to-one ratio. I Googled how much sugar could be dissolved in a cup (8 ounces) of water. That answer was two cups of sugar. Okay, that will be my Simple Syrup recipe going forward.

I found that there may be four ways to get the sugar mated up with the alcohol and fruit juice. To the container with alcohol and fresh or frozen fruit:
·   Just add raw sugar to the fruit and let the sugar draw the juice out from the fruit..

To the container with alcohol and fruit juice (already drawn from the alcohol sitting on the fruit for several weeks):
·   Add 1:1 Simple Syrup.
·   Add 2:1 Simple Syrup.
·   Add Invert Syrup (Simple Syrup that has been converted from sucrose to glucose and fructose by boiling for 10 minutes with a little lemon juice.).

I decided to make Invert Syrup with a 2:1 ratio to achieve a higher sugar density for my liqueur. I faced a little different problem that I made for myself by using a lot more fruit than any of the recipes called for. What that effectively will do is dilute the alcohol by volume content of the finished product. I need the higher level of sweetness without the added water volume that would further dilute the finished liqueur.

For my Invert Syrup I used 8 cups of white sugar and 4 cups of water. I brought that to a boil and then added 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. I then boiled the water and sugar, which changed from a cloudy white liquid (the sugar hadn’t completely dissolved) to a clear liquid over the ten minutes that it was boiled. Then I let it cool.

Here’s my recipe for my interpretation of Raspicello:

16 oz of alcohol @ 61% ABV
24 oz of raspberry juice (the carafe holds 64 oz. of berries)
8.5 oz of invert syrup (2:1 sugar to water)
4 oz dried wild blueberries
1 vanilla bean, with seeds scraped out and added in
2 TBS vegetable glycerine

The 16 oz of alcohol is comprised of the following:
1.66 cups of Smirnoff 40%ABV vodka
2.34 cups of Everclear 75.5%ABV grain alcohol

That gives me an alcohol mix of 4 cups of 60.8%ABV. The reason for this unusual mix is that I initially bought the Everclear, but then thought that it might be too potent for a quiet little liqueur. I thought I should cut its potency a bit. Now, after I have been through the process, I can see that I should have just followed through with the Everclear. I could always dilute the final product with a little extra water if need be.

So I added the fruit to the carafe, crushed it, added the alcohol, capped it and let it sit for a week. Then I added the sliced and scraped vanilla bean to help round out and soften the raspberry character. Some recipes called for this so I thought I’d try it. It seemed to make sense. After several days, I stirred it down and crushed the berries even further.

After two and a half weeks, I decided to move it forward. I put a quadruple layer of cheesecloth in the strainer and poured the mixture through the strainer for the coarse filtration. I mashed the pulp with the back of a spoon, but that still didn’t extract all the juice. I emptied the pulp from the cheesecloth into a bowl for attention later. After I had extracted as much juice as I could from the cheesecloth, I put the pulp back into the cheesecloth, gathered the four corners, and squeezed it into the cheesecloth-lined strainer.The cheesecloth required rinsing several times. Finally I placed the rinse-able coffee filter in the strainer, poured the twice-filtered liquid through, rinsed the coffee filter, and repeated the process. The rinse-able coffee filter is a really good, efficient device for this job…much better than disposable paper coffee filters would be.

To this filtered alcoholic fruit juice I added one cup invert syrup and a tablespoon of glycerine. I swirled the carafe to mix the sweetener and then I tasted it. First of all, the aroma of the berries was very dominant…a promise of taste delight to come. The taste was slightly sweet-tart, fruity, but a little thin. My wife liked it and hesitated when first smelling it…savoring the aroma. She remarked that it was like fruit juice (thin character) and definite alcohol character. Looking at the glass…you could see the “legs” from the alcohol. But it wasn’t over-the-top in alcohol. My calculations indicated that.

To another half cup of syrup I added a second tablespoon of glycerine, mixed it in, then added it to the carafe. I again swirled the carafe to mix the added sweetener. When I now tasted it I found that it was softer, not quite so harsh, and a little fuller in body. I have a second carafe virtually identical to this one so it is important to nail down the flavor and texture profile of this one so that the other can just follow suit. The only difference is that the other carafe has added dried cherries which I hope will provide a more complex character.

I bottled the mixture at that point, satisfied that this would be fine for a first pass at liqueur-making. I imagined pouring a glass in the cold winter months ahead. Nice. I had a little problem corking the bottles because the plastic, ribbed stopper was easing its way out of the bottle. Duh! I had put a little too much liqueur in each bottle and the compression from the stopper was forcing them out of the necks of the bottles. I poured a little out (into my testing/tasting glass, of course) and restoppered the bottles. Then I labeled them and put them in the bottle box for a little nap. See you in the holidays!

My calculated final potency for this Raspicello is 18.7%ABV. I arrived there with the following:
2 cups alcohol @ 61%ABV
3 cups raspberry juice
1.5 cups invert syrup

2 cups alcohol @ 61%ABV/6.5 cups total liquid volume => 18.7%ABV

It’s not very close to the commercial Raspicello (26%ABV) or the Limoncello (30%ABV) but it seems quite acceptable for this run. I could probably boost the amount of glycerine I use in the next batch to develop smoother mouth feel.

I will take the traps I discovered and the tricks I learned from this effort and apply them to the other matching carafe of raspberry liqueur. I also have a batch done with brandy that will benefit from this knowledge. And later I have the blueberry liqueur. That should be fun. I have some tall 375ml bottles coming for it.  8)

-Boofer-
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 07:16:40 PM by Boofer »
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Offline Susie

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2012, 10:55:53 AM »
Beautiful bottles! You will have to post again after they have aged and you give it a try.
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Offline Tomer1

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2012, 11:30:35 AM »
Fermeting the fruit slightly before adding your alcohol (and sugar to taste) will produce in most cases a much superier as the enzymes produced by the yeast will liberate many non volotile aroma compounds.   
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2012, 12:08:34 PM »
Tomer, I've made a sort of berry port before with that approach, taking it to 3-4% (lower than usual port, but had less sugar in fruit), and then macerating and filtering. Was amazing. Might be worth a try, Boof. Have you noticed how we are having an incredible berry year here in the PNW. I was hiking yesterday and came across the biggest huckleberries I have ever seen. Salmonberries and strawberries are gone, but thimbleberries and blackberries are just starting up. Oregon grape is looking amazing, too... very sweet.
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Offline hoeklijn

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2012, 01:10:29 PM »
My goodness Boofer, what's the next step, moonshine? You're a man with many talents... What about a white stilton with blueberries? Made that once and it's delicious.
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Offline Tomer1

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2012, 03:57:16 PM »
The style of having all your alcohol come from the fortifying agent (preserving all of the RS) is called Vins doux naturels. usually done with muscat verietals but It works great on fruit aswell.   You fortify to about 14-15% abv a day or two after active fermentation. (10% of the wine's volume using 190 proof or more so you bring as little water as possible)
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Offline Boofer

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2012, 07:28:51 PM »
My goodness Boofer, what's the next step, moonshine? You're a man with many talents... What about a white stilton with blueberries? Made that once and it's delicious.
You know, I thought about that a year ago, but decided against it after sampling a White Stilton with Apricots. Kinda put me off, so the blueberries went unused for cheese. They were used elsewhere.

Fermeting the fruit slightly before adding your alcohol (and sugar to taste) will produce in most cases a much superier as the enzymes produced by the yeast will liberate many non volotile aroma compounds.   

I'd be afraid I'd end up with nasty, moldy fruit instead of something elegant. These berries were pristine, as were the blueberries I used for that batch. The taster-tester glass was very nice even though it was very young and un-aged.

Salmonberries and strawberries are gone, but thimbleberries and blackberries are just starting up. Oregon grape is looking amazing, too... very sweet.
I haven't seen salmonberries in probably 35 years. Never seen Oregon grape. Where can I find either of those? Is it within reasonable driving distance of Parkland (Tacoma)?

Beautiful bottles! You will have to post again after they have aged and you give it a try.
I'm envious of anybody on the Boofer Christmas list.  8)
Yeah, Susie, I went searching for unusual bottles to contain these liqueurs. I lucked out. The little cannonball bottle just fits my hand. It and the smaller tall bottle are both 8 oz (250ml). The small tall will hold the brandy-based raspberry liqueur. I got not quite 48 oz of liqueur from the first carafe which nearly filled six of the cannonballs. I expect I'll fill nearly six of the small talls.

The tallest bottle just came in today. It holds 375ml. I have a case of 12 to hold that big glass container of blueberry mix. I'm very curious about the blueberry mix. It's probably going to be a very subtle aroma and flavor. Don't know what to expect.

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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2012, 07:50:45 PM »
Quote
I haven't seen salmonberries in probably 35 years. Never seen Oregon grape. Where can I find either of those? Is it within reasonable driving distance of Parkland (Tacoma)?
They're everywhere in most of the woods in the area. Maybe go for a hike nearby in a reasonably big area? I was in Woodinville.
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Offline Boofer

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2012, 03:18:05 PM »
This morning was time for racking and bottling. I did the second carafe and the brandy-based glass jar. I added to my education this morning.

I had used cheesecloth for the two carafes, but then I found that I had an unused package of cotton flour sack towels with a tighter weave. I cut a piece to fit the funnel I was using and proceeded to be amazed at the difference in filtering the flour sack gave to the effort. I poured some of the first-filtered alcoholic juice into the cloth-lined funnel and it trapped most of the small pulp particles. I had to rinse it and wring it out with every pouring, but in the end the liquid was clearer than it had been when I used the cheesecloth. I hardly needed the third filtering. Nice.

I also found that the quantity of glycerine I used was significantly higher than the recipes I found on-line called for. One had called for 1 teaspoon of glycerine per liter. I started out at 1 tablespoon per batch and easily moved that up to 1/4 cup (2 oz/59ml) per batch. The mouth feel at that point was satisfactory and certainly not excessive. It seems like the original Pallini Raspicello had a higher degree of mouth feel.

Next weekend I'll package up the blueberry batch. It will have had two weeks to leach out the berry essence at that point. It should be very nice in those tall, thin bottles (375ml).

In the first pic, the brandy-based batch is on the left and the second carafe (with dried cherries added) is on the right with the Raspicello bottle.  8)

All three raspberry batches have a wonderfully deep fruit character and all hover around 17% ABV. A nice warming sensation along with the burst of fruit flavor and aroma.  :D

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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2012, 03:29:27 PM »
if you don't mind using plastic, there are bags and material you can buy online with specific micron sizes. Typically used for hop bags in beer, for example. Something like a 100 micron bag would give you a very clear liquid, and you can go even finer. Can get them on ebay often as a filter for oil when making biodiesel for $5-$10. If you're making lots, might be worth it to buy one. They filter very quickly.
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Offline MrsKK

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2012, 08:45:52 AM »
Yum!  I'll expect an invite for the holidays, of course!

I make limoncello about every other year, as we have friends that adore it for Christmas.  I'm thinking I should be expanding my repertoire.

Offline Boofer

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Re: Preserving Summer Goodness -- Raspberry & Blueberry Liqueurs
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2012, 09:31:38 AM »
Yeah, Karen, I'm anxious to finish the blueberry this week. I've got personalized labels coming for that tall bottle. Should be very classy. Hopefully it will be good when I finish.  :P No idea what to expect.

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