All About Thyme
  A Weekly Calendar of Times & Seasonings

  Celebrating the Mysteries, Magic, and Myths of Herbs
Susan Wittig Albert  
Special Feature, January 1, 2018  

Stillroom Liqueurs: Fruit, Herbs, Spices

* Many wonderful drinks had their beginnings in medieval monastic gardens and stillrooms. They're easy to make, but they do take time to age. If you start now, you'll be offering your liqueur to guests at your summer outdoor dinner parties, spooning it onto ice cream for a delightful hot-weather dessert, or adding it to the marinade for your holiday duck. To ensure that your liqueurs are worth the time it takes to make them, use the best ingredients, store in glass or ceramic containers, and age in a cool dark spot. These recipes use vodka and white wine; brandy or white rum are also good.

Berry Rosy Liqueur
2 pints blackberries or raspberries
1 cup fresh rose geranium leaves
4 cups vodka
½ cup white wine

1 cup sugar
½ cup water

Combine the berries, geranium leaves, vodka, and wine in a wide-mouth jar with a tight-fitting lid. Steep for one month in a cool, dark place. Open and crush the berries slightly with a potato masher and steep for another 4-5 days. Strain, pressing the juice from the berries, then filter through a coffee filter or double layer of cheesecloth. To make the syrup, bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan, add sugar, and stir until dissolved. Cool. Add half the syrup to the liqueur; taste, then continue to add and taste until it is as sweet as you like. Pour into a bottle, cap it, and age in a cool, dark place for three weeks to three months. Makes about 1½ quarts.

Spiced Pear Liqueur
8 ripe pears, juiced (about 4 cups pear juice)
2-inch piece ginger root, peeled, sliced
1 whole nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups vodka
½ cup white wine

2 cups sugar
1 cup water

Combine the pears, ginger root, spices, vodka, and wine and proceed as above, steeping for 5 weeks. Strain, filter. Make the syrup and add as above. Bottle and age for at least 4 weeks—the longer the better.

Read more about making liqueurs and wines:

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Who's Susan Albert?

Susan Wittig Albert is the author of two recent memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place. Her fiction, which has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, includes A Wilder Rose (a novel about Rose Wilder Lane's collaboration with Laura Ingalls Wilder in the writing of the Little House books); the China Bayles mysteries; the Darling Dahlias mysteries; the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter; and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige. She is founder and past president of the Story Circle Network, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and Honorary President (2012-2014) of the Herb Society of America. More

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