Saving Summer II - Blackberry Cordial

Snuggled up on the sofa with your sweetie at the end of a long day of holiday preparations, gazing at flickering candles, listening to softly playing holiday music and slowly sipping luscious, soothing Blackberry Cordial....

If this little scene sound appealing - prepare for it NOW by picking all those fat, juicy blackberries ripening quickly in the warm August sunshine and making your very own Blackberry Cordial. Believe me - making Blackberry Cordial is as easy as pie! Actually way easier than pie!

Sarah inspired me to share this recipe and my Pesto Torta recipe as part of her Handmade Holiday Crusade. In July she challenged us to create gifts using the theme "Saving Summer".

Blackberry Cordial is a perfect treat to serve friends when they visit, but it also is a most welcome little "take some home" gift. All you need to do is keep a look out for pretty little bottles to "wrap up" your gift and follow this recipe and you are set!

RECIPE FOR BLACKBERRY CORDIAL

Ingredients

12 Cups Blackberries (I like to use fresh but you can use frozen berries as well)

2 Cups sugar

1 quart vodka

1 gallon size glass jar. ( I like to use the gallon size ice tea jars with lids that have a pour spout with a little flap.)

If you are using fresh berries, pick through them to remove any spoiled fruit, stems or leaves. Rinse and drain very gently. (During rinsing you are not so worried about bruising the berries as losing too much of that precious juice!)

Place your berries in a bowl and mash with a potato masher or the back of a big spoon. Add the sugar and stir in to mix thoroughly.

Transfer the berry/sugar mixture into a gallon glass jar and add the quart of vodka. Stir to mix. (Tip: use a 1 cup measuring cup to transfer the berries to the big jar.)

Cover but be sure to leave an escape route for the gases that build during fermentation. This is where the pour spout with the cap comes in handy. If you are using a standard screw on lid, set it on top loosely, do not screw it down tightly. Place your jar in a dark, fairly cool spot - I keep mine in my pantry.

You will find varying amounts of time recommended for letting the liqueur sit in the cupboard. I leave mine in the pantry or 8 to 9 weeks, stirring every other day for the first 10 to 14 days.

When you are ready to strain the cordial, completely line a strainer with several layers of clean cheese cloth. Set the strainer over a large bowl and carefully pour the berry mixture into the lined strainer.

Taking a cue from my great-grandmother's jelly making methods, I leave the strainer in place overnight (or at least 8 hours) allowing the weight of the berries to "squeeze out the juice". Do not press on the berry mixture. Pressing on the berries will cause pulp sediments in your cordial. Not pretty! Be patient and allow the juice to drain naturally. I usually cover my bowl and strainer loosely with a towel just to keep the dust out.

I store my Blackberry Cordial in large glass jars and pour into a pretty decanter for serving or giving. Although the cordial is ready to drink after 8 weeks, it actually seems to improve with age and is even better by Christmas. (Just to make sure I have cordial left for the holidays, I tell Kirby it won't be ready until December 10th!)

A NOTE ABOUT KEEPING IT CLEAN!

I am very careful about using only very clean containers and utensils. Although some recipes suggest rinsing the storage jar with boiling water, I have never done so. But everything that comes in contact with the mixture gets washed thoroughly in hot soapy water and thoroughly rinsed in very hot water. This includes not only the gallon jar but also the potato masher, all bowls, strainers, and stirring spoons. I wash and rinse the spoon used to stir the mixture every day just before use.

Here are a few links to online recipes for berry cordials. Many use raspberries, but we are blackberry lovers! To our palettes, blackberries produce a richer, warmer, sweeter cordial.

Raspberry Cordial, from Too Many Chefs

Red Raspberry Cordial, from Foodreference.com

Raspberry Cordial, from Food Down Under

Good luck and Happy 124 days until Christmas!

Do you think you would be

Do you think you would be able make cordial in a plastic gallon jar? I cant seem to find a glass gallon jar without buying a gallon of dill pickles, or something outrageous like that. If it has to be a glass jar, do you have a recommendation where I could find a jar fairly easily? Thanks.

How long with the cordial

How long with the cordial keep in the decanter? Do you have to refrigerate it after preparing it, or can you leave it in the decanter at room temp?

Is there anything you can do with the fruit?

We have kept the cordial in a

We have kept the cordial in a clean, tightly closed container for as long as two years in a dark closet at room temperature. (Usually it doesn't last that long but we found a jar we had forgotten).

The "fruit" at the end of the process is mostly only seeds with a little pulp.  The juice has all been extracted.  I can't imagine a use for it.

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