At 5 AM yesterday morning my neighbor caught me picking raspberries in my pajamas. Having accessorized my bunny print PJs with pink fluffy socks and sandals, I was quite a sight that early in the day. There was a reason for my unusual fashion statement, though. Because of a very mild winter and a warm wet spring, all of the fruits, herbs, flowers and vegetables on my tiny urban farm have exploded into production all at once, a full 3 weeks ahead of schedule.
Keeping up with the harvest has become a full-time job. Raspberry picking is the first thing I do in the morning and the last chore in the evening. If left on the cane just a little too long they will over ripen and turn to bad-tasting mush. Getting an early start on a very busy day by jumping out of bed and directly into the berry patch seemed to make sense at 5 AM. My neighbor, obviously embarrassed for me, inquired as to what in the world I was going to do with so many raspberries. She seemed impressed with my long list of uses for raspberries; smoothies, raspberry vinegar, raspberry jelly, Tutti Fruitti (a divine fermented family recipe I will share on a future blog) and my favorite, raspberry liquor.
This liquor, so simple to make, is similar to Chambord. I use it in baking, basting, sautéing, marinating and deglazing. I use raspberry liquor to infuse cakes, putting homemade mascarpone cheese (another future blog post candidate) and homemade raspberry jelly between the layers. Another favorite use for raspberry liquor is for cocktails. I like to top off Prosecco, Cava, Champagne or Vino Verde with a tablespoon of raspberry liquor, turning it into pink, bubbly deliciousness. Raspberry liquor can be used as a glaze for meats, to finish sauces and to marinate fruits for a compote. What better way is there to finish off a day of playing with plants than with a slice of dark chocolate, mascapone, raspberry cake and a sparkling raspberry cocktail?
I have included here the recipe for the liquor as well as the raspberry vinegar. The best raspberries for the liquor are the native black raspberries, they give it a deeper more intense flavor, but any red raspberry will also work beautifully.
To make the raspberry vinegar, I start my homemade white wine vinegar in the winter as it takes quite a few months to age, but if you haven’t started your own vinegar, no worries, because store-bought vinegar will work as well. I recommend freezing your raspberries as they ripen, in zip lock bags. They can be thawed and used in all your recipes.
- 3 cups ripe raspberries, washed and drained
- 3 cups good vodka
- 1/4 t vanilla
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
In a large jar with a lid gently crush berries
Put the top on and age for 3 weeks, stirring well once a week
Strain mixture through cheese cloth and return to age another week
Make a simple syrup from 1 cup water and 2 cups sugar, let cool and add to liquor
Bottle and let age for 2 months in refrigerator
- 16 oz white wine vinegar
- 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
Mix raspberries and vinegar in a mason jar.
Cover tightly and let sit for 2-3 weeks
Strain through cheese cloth, bottle and store in a cool place.
Black and red raspberry plants as well as bottles, canning jars, cheese cloth and vinegar mothers can all be found at Fifth Season Gardening. Happy berry picking!