Since ancient times cherry liqueur has been considered a perfect beverage for a festive table: it’s tasty, simple in making and doesn’t require rare ingredients. This article covers two well-tried homemade recipes, which are ideal for homemade conditions: first is based on vodka infusion, and second—on natural fermentation. You’ll need berries, sugar, water or vodka (depending on the recipe chosen).
Prior to working with raw materials, you’ll have to pick the cherries, removing stems, unripe, spoilt or moldy berries. Even just a few spoilt cherries might spoil drink’s taste. You can also use frozen cherries, but it’s important to use melted ice water after defrosting (just pour it in the vessel).
Cherry Liqueur with Vodka
Following this recipe will let you make higher potency drink in a more simple way. Vodka can be replaced with 40% diluted ethanol or cheap but genuine brandy.
Ingredients for a 3-liter container:
- Cherries – 1 kilo
- Vodka (moonshine, brandy) – 0.5-0.7 liter
- Sugar – 300-400 grams (to taste)
- Wash the cherries and puncture each with a toothpick. Then pour them into a container with a wide neck (not a bottle). Pour each cherry 3-4 cm layer with sugar—3-5 tablespoons. You’ll need 12-20 tablespoons of sugar for a 3-liter container. The end result will be a moderately sweet drink. Fill the container up to the point where it starts to get narrower; sugar should be on top.
Cherry pits give out almond flavor thanks to an insignificant amount of cyanide and hydrocyanic acid. Correct maturing time and sugar counteract these harmful substances, but if you think that this drink can harm your health remove the pits leaving only pulp and juice. Although, doing this will remove its notable bitterness.
- Pour in the alcohol base to the brim. The exact amount of alcohol depends from berries which have to be covered with alcohol by at least 1-2 cm.
- Seal the vessel and put it in a dark place with room temperature. Shake it once every 2-3 days to promote sugar dissolving.
Don’t let it mature for longer than 40 days with cherry pits!
- After 35-40 days (60 days if pits were removed) remove cherries from the container by filtering the infusion through a few layers of cheesecloth and cotton wool. Give it a taste and sweeten with sugar if needed. Bottle the drink for storing and seal it. 25-30% ABV. Its shelf-life in a cool dark place is up to 3 years.
Berries can be used for confectionery purposes or as a snack.
Serve it chilled. You can lower liqueur’s potency by diluting it with juice (cherry, apple or orange juice is fine).
Cherry Liqueur without Pits and Vodka
This method is more complex compared to the previous one and resembles winemaking process. Following this recipe will let you make a slightly less potent liqueur with a milder taste and no alcohol scent.
- Cherries – 2 kilos
- Sugar – 800 grams
- Water – 250-300 ml
Warning! Do not wash the cherries and don’t collect them after rain in order to preserve wild yeast on their surface or the liqueur won’t ferment. On the other hand, you can purchase wine yeast (under no circumstances use pressed or dry baker’s yeast) or prepare raisin ferment 2-3 days prior to liqueur making. Sterilize the container with boiling-hot water in order to prevent the must from getting infected with mold or other microorganisms. Always wash hands when working with raw materials.
- Pit ripe cherries without spilling the juice. Pour 200 grams of sugar into the container and then fill it with the obtained juice.
- Put pitted cherries and remaining sugar (600 grams) in alternating layers.
- Fill the container with water up to the point where it starts to get narrower (not to the brim). This is necessary because foam and gas will start producing during fermentation, and they will require enough free space.
- Attach an airlock to the bottleneck. Alternatively, you can attach a medical glove with a hole punctured in one of its fingers. Additionally, tie a medical glove around the bottleneck with a rope or rubber ring.
- Leave the liqueur container in a warm (18-29°C) dark place or cover it with thick fabric. After 8-36 hours there will be foam, and the glove should get slightly inflated (the airlock will start bubbling). This means that fermentation is going as planned.
Depending on the temperature and yeast activity your homemade cherry liqueur might ferment for 25-55 days. After that, the glove will deflate (air lock will stop bubbling) and there will be no foam.
- Pour the liqueur from the container. Don’t worry about the sediment, just make sure that no cherries make it out.
- After letting the drink mature for two days in a sealed container, decant it and then filter it through several layers of cheesecloth and cotton wool.
- Bottle the liqueur for storing and seal it with corks. Leave it in a fridge or cellar with a temperature of 3-16°C for at least 45 days.
Store in a cool dark place in dark glass bottles. Its shelf-life is up to 3 years. 9-12% ABV.