[NAFEX] Cassis redux

rmelrose at danvilleVT.net rmelrose at danvilleVT.net
Mon Jun 22 08:39:46 EDT 2009

Stephen, This was an old message of mine that someone reposted in response
to a new question. The only thing I would add about this recipe -- which is
still pretty much what I use -- is what you are saying:- IT DOES NOT LAST!
Maybe eight months max before it goes stale and the fruit flavor hardens. I
discovered this when I proudly served a Kir to a bunch of people, carefully
using an old bottle of Cassis. I was surprised by the subdued reaction
until I tried it myself.

So, there is a trade-off here between intense fruitiness and keeping
properties. Now that I know, it does not bother me -- I don't make too much
anyway and think of it as a Winter Tonic! Maybe you know of a stabilizer --
I would guess that boiling does the trick but at great cost.

As to your question, I have tried a couple of other fruit-flavored alcohols
but none is close to Cassis. The redcurrant was very pretty but not so good
in taste. I thought about blueberry but have not tried it (the berries are
so great frozen whole) I am planning on trying a pear alcohol this year,
probably from `Golden Spice' which has a very string in flavor.


> Yes, Donna, I would not be too keen to boil the alcohol off either.
> I have tried several recipes for cassis and the one I settled on comes from
> Jane Grigson's ``Good Things'' (if you have a copy, the recipe isn't listed
> in the index, look in the liquer chapter; the recipe in her ``Fruit'' book
> is a complete dog). Roughly it says, take 1lb blackcurrants, 3/4 lb of
> sugar (I use 1/2 lb or a little less) and 1 pint of vodka -- she also
> suggests the addition of cinnamon which seems like a really bad idea to
> me. Mush up the blackcurrants stems and all, I always put in a few green
> leaves, add the sugar, mix with the vodka and leave in a closed jar for a
> month, preferably warm and in the sun. That is all trivial, the work part
> is then to strain through muslin, squeezing out the juice. But it is then
> ready for use.
> Not surprisingly it has a very strong fruit flavour, if you are unfortunate
> enough not to like blackcurrants don't even try it. Much better than the
> commercial stuff to my taste -- not as syrupy. Makes a very nice Kir.
> Richard
>> I'm a little puzzled by this recipe because it seems like the cooking
> would evaporate much of the alcohol, thus eliminating much of the reason for
> having the alcohol in it in the first place.  It's just a syrup then,
> preserved only by high sugar content and storage temps too cool to ferment
> it.  Or does some alcohol remain?  Donna
> Richard,
> Was this your first liqueur?  It's an interesting hobby.  It's not difficult
> to make liqueurs that taste better than their expensive commercial
> counterparts.  Reducing the sugar is something I do too; I find a lot of
> liqueurs too sweet.  
> I'm sure my methods will evolve, but I follow the same rough method:  For
> cassis, I start with dried fruit.  I find dried fruits infuse the base with
> flavor very well.  I'm sure I use less fruit by number than your recipe, but
> I'm not saying I'm sure it's better than using fresh.  I add other flavor
> elements that seem like a good idea at the time: maybe a cinnamon stick and
> some lemon peel.  I place my flavor ingredients and sugar in a quart jar,
> and fill it with cheap vodka (sometimes a blend of booze - whisky, ouzo,
> tequila, etc add flavor notes).  The cheapest booze is best; the fruits and
> herbs completely soften the flavor.  There's no difference starting with a
> more expensive base.  I'll drink some after three months, but consider it
> finished at six; then I strain and add a little glycerin for body.  
> Warmth isn't that trivial; it speeds the process.  I imagine after a month
> yours is excellent.  
> I'm imagining all those black currants you used infusing in that alcohol; it
> sounds really delicious. Have you tried a little in a crushed-ice filled
> glass, topped with sparkling water, and a lemon wedge for garnish?  I
> squeeze the lemon right in, but that's individual taste. 
> ~ Stephen 

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