Cranberry Liqueur

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The holiday season is officially upon us! Love it or loathe it, most of us look forward to sipping on a festive cocktail or two (or three) this time of year. Spread some cheer with Jessica Pithie’s festive Cranberry Liqueur. Coincidentally, edible South Shore recently hosted a South Shore Locavores gathering all about cranberries and bogs. But more about that after Thanksgiving!

Turning the fall harvest into holiday cheer.
By Jessica Pithie

Last week I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across several bags of fresh cranberries with a sign that said “help yourself!” in the back room of the yoga studio where I teach. Apparently one of my fellow instructors had a surplus of the tiny tart berries and was willing to share. I snatched up a bag without hesitation.

Wondering what I would do with my unexpected bounty, I hit the web and happened to stumble across a wonderful handmade gift idea: homemade cranberry liqueur. Saturday morning, I picked through my berries, getting rid of any sticks and duds, whipped up some simple syrup and simmered the berries in the syrup, adding a bit of orange juice and citrus zest. Once cooled the cranberry syrup would be combined with vodka and stored for three weeks. Voila! A brilliant red gift ready right in time for the holiday party season.

The whole project took only about a half hour and even at this early stage the liqueur is a bold, bright, ruby red color that just screams “holiday cheer.” My plan is to pour the finished product into smaller bottles, label them and package them up with a bottle of prosecco. Together, the cranberry liquor and proscecco will combine for an updated, tasty take on the classic holiday cocktail: The Poinsettia. A perfect host gift or addition to the bar at your holiday party.

CRANBERRY LIQUEUR
(originally found on Vino Luci)

2 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons orange or lemon zest
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 cups good quality vodka
At least two airtight jars

Food processor or blender

Heat water and sugar to a boil, stirring often so as not to scorch. Let simmer for at least three minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat a touch and add cranberries, zest and juice. Let simmer for just a few minutes, allowing the flavors to combine. Remove from heat and let cool a bit before processing or blending.

When ready, pour entire mixture into blender or food processor and pulse just a few times to break up the berries a bit (process in batches if your liquid limit is small- liquids expand, so be careful. This stuff is sticky). Let entire mixture cool to room temperature and then add your vodka and pour into jars. Seal jars tightly and store in a cool dry place for three weeks, giving the jars a stir or shake every few days. Once your liquor has developed, strain through a fine mesh strainer and pour into small bottles to be packaged up for gifts, or kept to yourself and enjoyed throughout the holiday party season!

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