5.20.2017

Cherry, Baby!

Cherry Baby, I’m gonna make-a-you mi-yi-yine.

Now is the time. If you want to have a bottle of homemade cherry liqueur for the holidays, get out there and pick/buy your cherries now, because this recipe is the epitome of slow food - it takes six months.

A traditional Italian liqueur with a deep, dark mahogany color, its intense flavor bears absolutely no resemblance to cherry cough syrup.  It is not too sweet and has an alluring hint of bitterness from the inclusion of crushed pits in the process.

I wonder what color it would be if Queen Anne cherries were used? What if I used sour cherries? Would the addition of an herb or spice - thyme, rosemary, or cinnamon - be nice?

So many options to consider for this year's batch!

~ David

Liquore di Ciliegine

2 pounds 4 ounces sweet cherries
12 ounces granulated sugar
750ml Everclear (190 proof alcohol)

Wash and pit the cherries, discarding half the pits. Wrap the reserved pits in a clean cloth and break with a hammer. Combine the pieces of pits and cherries in a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. The jar needs to be big enough to hold all the fruit, sugar, and liquid. Cover fruit and pits with sugar, seal with the lid, and set aside in a dark place to age for two weeks, shaking the mixture alternate days.

Add the alcohol and place mixture in the refrigerator to macerate for three months. At this time, you can start your holiday shopping.

Line a fine-mesh sieve with a sheet of clean muslin, and strain the liquid into a clean glass container. Cover, return to the refrigerator, and let it age for at least three months, while you  finish your holiday shopping.

Divide among small decorative glass bottles for serving or gifting; keep refrigerated.

Makes approximately 1 liter.

54 comments:

  1. David, incredibly beautiful photos! AND this sounds like such fun. I really must try it. I love opening the refrigerating and seeing a "project" in there for months!

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    1. Thanks, Jean - I am so glad you like the photos! I didn't have much to work with, as it's a pretty simple recipe. There is great payoff at holiday time!

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  2. I can't find Everclear near me so I normally use 100 proof vodka and age liqueurs a bit longer. Hoping it works for this too...I'm definitely making it!

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    1. That should work just perfectly, Barb - especially as (unlike limoncello) this is not kept in the freezer but in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

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  3. Oh my , this is fantastic, I have to make it. Does it have to be refrigerated the last three months?

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    1. In theory, yes it does, Gerlinde. But I'm sure it would be fine if you snuck some earlier!

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  4. I'm going to try this with sour cherries and gin. I love a Sour Cherry Gin Rickey so why not, right? I usually see sour cherries in June so that gibves me enough time I suspect. GREG

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    1. Sounds like a reasonable idea, Greg! Keep me posted!

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  5. I've not heard of Everclear until now, so if/when I give this a go, I'll be using my brother's rakia that he distills at home. Your recipe sounds just like what the Croatians do, although I could be wrong.

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    1. John - I am sure it is very similar to the Croatian recipe. After all, Italy isn't that far... I would love to try this with your brother's rakia!

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  6. ooooh, I want to try this too! You also made a homemade lemon liqueur some time in the recent past, didn't you? I'll have to find that post, I've always wanted to try to make my own liqueur! This cherry flavored drink sounds wonderful, David. :)

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    1. Hi, Marcelle - yes, I made limoncello, and another with mandarins. You really should make some of your own - they are so tasty and they are fun to serve to special friends!

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  7. Your direction says to put the fruit, pits and sugar in the jar a have it sit for 2 weeks before adding alcohol? Isn't that a recipe for mold? If not, what stops it? Also, can I leave out the pits if I don't want bitterness?

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    1. The maceration doesn't cause mold, Cathy. And you can leave out the pits, but they also add great flavor!

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    2. I am in the middle of doing this! Do you just pour the sugar on top or do you still it in? Hope you see this real soon!

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    3. I didn't stir them but did shake the jar to distribute the sugar, much of which had fallen through.

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    4. Ok. Thanks so much. I will keep you updated as to how it goes!

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    5. Oh man, it is in the jar! I am so looking foward to this project. Last year my friends got bourbon peaches for Christmas. They are really looking forward to this! Thanks so much for this post.

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    6. It's fun seeing it in the jar and anticipating tasting it at the holidays! I am getting more cherries this weekend to make some more!

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    7. And what do you do with the boozy cherries after you strain them? Over ice cream?

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    8. I actually tossed them out - they aren't all that appetizing when you are done with them!

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  8. my goodness. I'm left wondering Why the refrigeration? the alcohol is more than enough to maintain the sterility of the maceration.

    what concerns me with the fridge procedure is that the delicate room temperature maceration process - during which the flavours & many other esters are extracted from the plant material - would be inhibited or damaged by refrigeration. Who would ever dream of refrigerating oaken casks of a premier grand cru bordelais for months on end, for example? it's enough that they mellow quietly in the never-varying coolth of their cave for a couple of years.

    all my life, i've made wild berry & aromatic plant elixirs. The wild crimson berries of the cold north - everything from raspberry to strawberry to sumac to hawthorn to cloudberry - develop liqueurs & alcohol extractions with flavours so heavenly they can't really be described in words. In recent years it's become widely known that they all have positive medicinal properties as well.

    there's a standard procedure that's followed by everyone up here in quebec. Not only everyone but also their grandmothers & great-grandmothers.

    i'm a newcomer to Cocoa & Lavender, so hesitate to post an alternative procedure. Might i inquire instead whether our genial host would permit a different recipe.

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    1. Hi there - sorry for the delay in response - I was away! A couple of responses to your thoughtful comment: The maceration itself is not refrigerate - just dark and cool. I cannot honestly tell you why the refrigeration, but I do know it works. The recipe was handed to me this way... perhaps "dark and cool" would suffice, but I wanted to be true to the original. When I make limoncellor, mandarincello, meloncello, raspberry bounce, or blackbetter brandy, I do not refrigerate them.

      Please feel free to post your recipe here if you like. The more versions we have, the better off we are! And I would love to be able to address you by name, if you are willing to share! ~ David

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  9. This sounds very intriguing David, I love cherries and we can get some great ones up here. Think I will make us some. Fabulous idea!!!!

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    1. Greg from Sippity Sup is going to try it with sour cherries - that sounds like a fun experiment, too, Cheri. I am envious of all the cherries you get in the PNW!

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  10. Love idea, not something I've ever tried with cherries - I normally use sloes in the autumn. What a great colour it comes out!

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    1. I wish we could get sloes here... oh well, we do what we can, Caroline!

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  11. I have to admire your diligence and patience, David. I could never plan that far in advance. And with my memory, I'd probably forget that cherry liqueur I had made in late May was still in the back of the fridge... Or else I'd sneak a taste or two before its time.

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    1. Frank - I might, or might not, have tried this along the way.... six months IS a long time, after all.

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  12. I've made cherry liqueur before but left whole cherries in it and served one in a cordial glass with the liqueur.

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  13. wow, really amazing. Next step limoncello :) ciao David

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  14. ... one question: is there a specifici reason why it is kept in the fridge? I generally make cherry brandy and I leave it out of the fridge for months.
    + what is the Italian name for this?
    thanks. stefano

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    1. Stefano - the old recipe simply said Liquore (Ciliegine). As for the refrigation, I assume it was from a hot part of Italy (perhaps Sicily) and keeping it cool kept it from growing mold.

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  15. Everclear? Daaaaaaaamn, you don't mess around!
    We just use vodka.

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  16. Wow! Your post inspired lots of questions about variations. I will look forward to your responses and, in the meantime, think about when we could make some of this elixir!

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    1. I suppose there are as many version of this as there are pain d'├ępices in Provence! And, I am sure they are all good, too, Susan!

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  17. Oh my goodness, David. You know how to tempt us, don't you? This looks fantastic! I've never made my own liqueur, although just got as far as placing prunes in Corsican Eau de Vie ... but this sounds so much better! I love cherries but this takes them to another (hic) level. Love your pics, as ever, David.

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    1. Thanks, Jill - I love making my own liqueurs. When we had a pear tree and blackberry bushes in Maine, we used to make pear brandy and blackberry brandy - so delicious!

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    2. I have a ton of frozen blueberries. Can I make a liquor from them too?

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    3. Yes, Cathy - you can definitely use blueberries. Some people just infuse their vodka with it without adding sugar.

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  18. David, do you have a recommendation for a cherry pitter? I did all the pitting by hand and would LOVE to avoid that again!

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    1. Cathy - This is the one I use and it works really well: https://www.amazon.com/SALE-Premium-Cherry-Pitter-Stoner/dp/B01HHA1NM4/ref=sr_1_7?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1504468012&sr=1-7-spons&keywords=oxo+cherry+pitter&psc=1

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  19. I'm currently mid way through this recipe. The liquor is straining as I type. I can't wait to bottle up for celebrations in a few more months!

    My next challenge is finding some bottles to package this in!

    I will definitely be trying some other recipes now that I have one under my belt. A meloncello next perhaps?

    Thanks for the inspiration David!

    ~ Katie

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    1. Hi Katie! You are most welcome!

      I found my favorite bottles for this at Michael's - they have some really nice shapes and small sizes that are perfect for gifts!

      Congrats on the halfway point! There are all sorts of wonderful liqueurs you can make!

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