About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, December 15, 2006
Cherry Vodka
photo courtesy of Ed Charles

Upon offering a bottle of cherry vodka as a prize in Menu for Hope, it occurred to me that there will be some disappointed folk out there, I know I would be if I missed out, because I know how good it is. But all is not lost for it is so easy to make and in the Southern hemisphere, the sour cherry (pie cherry) season will be here in one or two weeks.

Now sour cherries are not the easiest thing to buy as they don't seem to find their way into the shops. We get ours straight from an orchard that sells direct to the public and I do know that some pick your own orchards also grow sour cherries, so you need to look around to secure your supply.

The other thing that may be a little hard to find is the pure spirit which is 95% alcohol. We are lucky here in Melbourne as a major liquor retailer, Dan Murphy, stocks it and Acland Cellars in St Kilda also have it. It's not cheap, I bought some for the photo shoot for the pics in this post and it cost me $52 for 500 ml, but what you need to remember is the strength, a little of this stuff goes a very long way.

The rest of the ingredients are easy, sugar and vodka and that's it, there is nothing else apart from a large preserving jar to marinate the cherries in. Any large jar which can hold a kilo of sour cherries with a bit of extra space would do, but you need to make sure it seals well, not to stop any nasties getting in, rather to stop any precious juices getting out when you shake the jar or jars later on. Preserving jars are good for this job as they come with effective rubber seals.

Cherry Vodka

1 kg (2.2 lb) sour (pie) cherries
1 500 ml (17 fl oz) bottle pure spirit (95% alcohol)*
3/4 kg (26 oz) sugar
350 ml (12 fl oz) vodka (40% alcohol)

Pull all the stems from the sour cherries and place in a preserving jar. Pour on the pure spirit, reserve the bottle, and seal the lid of the jar. Give a shake to make sure all the cherries have some alcohol on them, don't worry that all the cherries might not be under the spirit. Write the date on the jar and leave in a cool, dark spot for four to six weeks, shaking the jar once a week. This process gets colour into the spirit and also extracts flavour from the cherry pits (kernels), don't leave longer than six weeks as this cherry pit flavour becomes too strong.

When the cherries have finished marinating in the spirit, pour the spirit back into the bottle and set aside. Add the sugar to the sour cherries, reseal the jar and give a good shake. Every day you need to vigourously shake the jar to redistribute the sugar and help it dissolve. What the sugar is doing is drawing all the juice out of the sour cherries and as more juice is drawn out, more sugar dissolves. You will need to shake the jar every day for about a month until there is absolutely no undissolved sugar left and the sour cherries are completely shriveled up.

Pour this sweet juice into a large bowl or pot, add the reserved pure spirit and the vodka then stir well to mix thoroughly. We like to filter the cherry vodka at this stage by placing some cotton wool in a funnel and slowly pouring the cherry vodka through, though it isn't strictly necessary as it is with other types of fruit. Pour this cherry vodka into bottles and leave for at least a week for the flavours to mingle, it's better after a month. It also improves with keeping....that is if you can keep your hands off it.

*You might be only able to find 85% pure spirit, you can still make it with this.

And of course you can still win a bottle in Menu for Hope, posted to anywhere in the world! Go on, bid now - prize code AP12.

photo courtesy of Ed Charles
  posted at 7:53 am

At 9:18 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look's like a fantastic recipe. The photos are excellent. Very impressive. Keep up the good work.

At 11:02 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love those cherry photos. The years when I've spent cherry season in Michigan I can get the sour cherries, oh so good.
You are amazing.

At 12:51 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi amelita, it is very good. Don't worry I'm working hard to keep up the good work!

Hi tanna, aren't sour cherries soooo good. We even eat them plain....aquired taste though.

At 7:40 am, Blogger Reb said...

Yummo! What would be the yield of cherry vodka for this recipe Neil? Also, if you can't find the 85/95% spirit, could you do it by using more vodka? Superbly art directed photos, Ed. Nice one.

At 4:07 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks.

Laurie a/k/a Miss New Orleans
(Having Blogger problems this morning.)

At 8:55 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi reb, depending on the cherries, about 1.75 litres. I honestly don't know how it would go with less alcoholic volume, my guess is that it would still work as the sugar and alcohol would still preserve it, but it wouldn't have much alcohol warmth, probably about 15%....which still could be very nice.

Hi laurie, I'd know you anywhere, maybe we share that phsycic thing! Blogger has been so crap lately.

At 6:59 pm, Anonymous Jemmy Bryant said...

All the pictures look great.The process of making cherry vodka is simple and sweet. But it takes long time to complete the process.Like slow and steady wins the race.After preparation it takes the cherry of the cake. I like to enjoy my cherry vodka with Cohiba cigars.As my favorite cigars are not easily available in the local market, so I buy them online.

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