Autumn arrived this morning and I am overjoyed. It brought some wind, a smattering of rain drops, and cooler temperatures, so Bear and I celebrated with ham potato soup for breakfast. So cozy and good.
We had a really lovely weekend in spite of scorching heat. We spent a day with some of our Viking friends, shuffling from one patch of shade to another as we worked on all sorts of projects. Some made leather shoes and sewed linen garments, others carved beautiful Viking symbols into wood and one used the finest linen thread I’ve ever seen to start the process of making her own linen. Amazing. I brought my spinning wheel and loom along, and received really great tips on weaving and spinning that make the processes not nearly so daunting. Unlike Bear, who astounds me with his ability to design and build things in his head before ever pounding a nail or drawing a pattern, I’m a more hands on approach kind of girl, and learn much better watching someone do something. I’m always so thankful for patient people who don’t mind walking me through things.
We also picked up all our beekeeping equipment, and are now thoroughly kitted out with big white suits, a smoker, honey extractor, leather gloves, and a hodgepodge of other things you need to get honey from comb to jar. Our lovely bees will arrive soon and I can’t wait to see them.
On Saturday I made a batch of lilly pilly liqueur using the lilly pillies growing in a big clay pot in my kitchen garden.
Although making big batches of wine and cider is great, I have a soft spot for liqueurs because you can make them with only a handful of fruit and still have something lovely to sip on within a week or two.
Since my lilly pilly bush is still young and only producing a few cups of berries each season, liqueur is a wonderful way to capture the essence of this Australian native fruit. By next year I should be harvesting enough berries to make jam and jelly, but for now, I will cherish my little bottle of lilly pilly liqueur.
The process is simple: for every cup of fruit add 1 cup of vodka/rum/spirits and one cup of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water heated until the sugar dissolves, then cooled). You can also do it with straight sugar, but I prefer the simple syrup which isn’t as sweet but still gives a smooth liqueur texture and flavor.
Give the fruit a bit of a mash (since lilly pillies are not a soft fruit like raspberries, I chopped most of them in a food processor) and pour into a sterilized glass jar. Top up with vodka and simple syrup and stir well. Cover with a clean dish towel or cheesecloth and secure tightly with string. Store in a cool, dark place for at least a week or two, and up to a couple of months, making sure to stir the fruit mixture once a day with a sterilized stainless steel spoon so no mold forms.
Taste once a week and when it reaches your desired flavor, strain the liqueur into a sterilized bottle and seal until ready to drink. Some folks throw away the fruit, but I like its boozy flavor and fold it into cakes, pancakes, and scones, or simply pour over ice cream.
Lilly pilly liqueur is a gorgeous color, beautiful for festive occasions such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day, or whenever you feel like treating yourself. It’s delicious at room temperature, but during the heat of summer it is even better cold. You can drink it straight, stir it into a mojito, or pour it over panna cotta or ice cream.
It’s been a good but busy weekend and I’m ready to curl up with a book and a nip of lilly pilly liqueur.
What is your favorite fruit? Have you ever made it into a liqueur? xo