Fruit liqueurs are an acceptable replacement for grape wine of medium strength and may be prepared from any kind of berries or fruit as follows: First, it is crucial that berries be ripe, clean, and free from green leaves or roots (old or crushed berries, provided they are not moldy, will not spoil the liqueur). If apples are used, they should be sour, not sweet, and cut into pieces small enough to fit through the neck of the bottle. Second, good spirits are essential; if not French brandy, then distilled vodka with the strength of 25 degrees of Gess* [Hess] must be used, otherwise the fruit liqueur will have a nasty odor.
Add a suitable amount of clean, ripe berries or fruit to a large glass bottle or carboy. Cover the berries with spirits (use distilled vodka if French brandy is not available) until you have ⅓ more liquid than berries; for example, if the berries fill ⅔ of the bottle, fill the remaining ⅓ of the bottle, to the very top of its neck, with vodka. Cover the bottle with a good strong cloth, tie it with a cord, and seal the ends. Set the bottle of liqueur in a window with a southern exposure, that is, on the sunny side of the house, and leave it there for 2 or 3 months, shaking it every 3 or 4 days. The length of time (2 or 3 months) depends on the ripeness of the berries or fruit and their quantity. The riper the berries and the more of them, the less time needed. For instance, if only very ripe berries or fruit are used, and vodka covers the fruit by the height of only two fingers, the time may be shortened even to 1½ months.
After standing, the fruit liqueur must be refined or strained. Line a clean funnel with
Sweeten the liqueur, or add syrup, as follows: make a syrup, using from
When the liqueur has cooled, it is ready to be used. The liqueur must first be bottled, corked, and sealed, and then it may be kept as long as you like.
The very best fruit liqueurs are made from cloudberries, black currants, cherries, raspberries, red currants, lingonberries, plums, and rowanberries. Gather the latter in the fall after the first frost; pick them over and add them to a carboy. Add vodka as indicated above and set in a window, but best of all on a cupboard in a heated room for 2 or 3 months.
*“Gess” is a unit of measurement denoting the strength of alcohol, named after the chemist Academician German Ivanovich Gess (1802–1850).
**Hungarian wine, which here I assume means Tokay wine, was a favorite of the Tsars and was held in the highest repute during the nineteenth century.
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