If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you might know that the wonderfully talented Laura at Circle of Pine Trees is a good friend of mine.
Laura and I met back in our student days at Bristol Uni, both of us studying English Literature and then taking a masters in poetry (otherwise known as wasting a year in a rather enjoyable but completely pointless pursuit…)
It wasn’t over our mutual love of 20th century poetry though, that we really bonded, but through our mutual love of cooking (and perhaps more specifically a love of cakes, now I think about it…)
In the years since (oh, one or two I would guess, if you’re asking, definitely not more than a decade, ahem) that love of cooking has developed for both of us into a love of cooking with natural ingredients; often either home grown or foraged.
So we thought it was high time we got together and collaborated to share some recipes, growing tips and foraging ideas with each other – and any of you dear readers who might be interested.
Here then, as a first installment for our new series Grow, Forage, Cook, is my recipe for morello cherry vodka.
When I removed the giant cactus from the front garden a few years back, I planted a morello cherry tree in its place.
Morello cherries are wonderful because they’re rather bitter and don’t taste good until you cook them. In itself, not necessarily a plus point, but it means the birds don’t eat them and you can use every single last one on the tree. This year, the first year I got any fruit, it wasn’t a bumper crop. (The tree is still very young. Barely into adolescence in tree years.) But it was perfectly sized for a batch of morello cherry vodka.
- Morello cherries (or you could use normal sweet cherries and reduce the sugar)
- A bottle of vodka
- Granulated sugar — enough to fill about a third of the bottle
- And then you need a bottle with a seal to store it in
What to do:
1. Cut all the cherries in half. I leave the stones in, which gives a slightly almondy flavour to the vodka as well, but you could take the stones out if that doesn’t sound pleasant.
2. Fill your storage bottle a third full with sugar (you can simply re-use the original vodka bottle if it has a screw lid. Just
drink remove a little bit of of the vodka first) and then push the cherries in on top.
3. Pour the vodka over the top until you’ve filled the bottle…
…and then seal the lid and give it a really good shake.
4. Store it in a cupboard and give it a good shake every time you notice it for the first month or so. (Or, if you’re more organised than me, do it once a week to schedule.)
5. If you can, leave it for a year, even better leave it for two years to really infuse together. Once you’re ready to drink it, strain the liquid through a sieve to remove the vodka-soaked cherries.
Getting all Blue Peter on you, here is one I prepared earlier. Two years ago, to be precise:
Isn’t it a phenomenal colour?!
So, five minutes prep and a mere two years in waiting and you’ve got some cherry vodka.
What to do with it then? you might well ask.
Of course, you can just swig it from the bottle (I did this a few times while I was waiting. Checking that the sugar content was right, naturally, not just having a cheeky glug.)
But the classier option is to use it in a cocktail.
It’s really good in a cherry vodka fizz: one measure vodka, the glass topped up with tonic water. (A vodka tonic by any other name…)
Or, for a more boozy / celebratory alternative, you could put a measure of the cherry vodka in a champagne glass and top with champagne.
Or, of course, you could just use it in place of normal vodka in about a million other cocktail recipes and make them a wonderful pink colour.
[My husband just looked over my shoulder and commented that if he couldn’t see the actual items, he would never believe that these were real, so bright are the colours. But yes! I trick you not, this really is the vodka I made and the cherries really are that bright red. Here’s a final shot of them, unedited straight from the camera:
So go forth, all, and plant a morello cherry tree in your garden!]
Let me know if you have a go, I’d love to hear any other wonderful concoctions you make with it!
- Not fond of cherries? I made something similar last year with blackberry and apple