Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Cranberry Liqueur
Homemade cranberry liqueur, fresh from the bogs of New Jersey.  Or Massachusetts.  Or wherever the hell those cranberry bogs are.

“Bog.”  It’s a funny word.  Say it a few hundred times and it sounds even funnier.

It is a word with multiple meanings.  Webster’s (their Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, which, given its copyright date of 1967, is hardly “new” at this point) defines it as “wet, spongy ground, especially a poorly drained usually acid area rich in plant residues, frequently surrounding a body of open water and having a characteristic flora.”  It’s another word for a swamp, quagmire, bayou, or marsh, fen, or wetland.

To a Brit, a bog is a toilet... which, I suppose, says something about the toilets in Old Blighty.

And who lives in the bog?  Why, the Boggy-Man, of course.

The Boggy-Man, contrary to popular belief, does not subsist on a diet of lost children.  He is, rather, a fruitarian: Blueberries, cranberries, cloudberries, huckleberries and lingonberries all grow wild in bogs.  Only those enterprising souls who are willing to confront the Boggy-Man will harvest those tasty morsels... but the rewards are abundantly delicious.

* * *

The cranberry is a Bog-Fruit with which most of us are familiar, and one that is especially popular this time of year.  And so, when I saw this recipe for Do-It-Yourself Cranberry Liqueur, I knew I would have to give it a try.

When the Missus and I were in Texas the week of Thanksgiving, I convinced my BIL Aaron that making our own cranberry liqueur would be a worthwhile project, what with it being Thanksgiving and all.  It certainly was easy enough: all you do is simmer cranberries and orange zest in sugar and water, then add vodka and let things macerate happily for a few days.  Strain out the solids and - easy-peasy - you're good to go.

The results were quite pleasing.  We made a double recipe of the stuff, and barely a few drams survived the holiday.

But when I tried it at home, I learned that it ain’t all that simple.

You want to let those cranberries cook for about 10-15 minutes, enough so that they start to break down.  And you want to help them along with a fork, mashing them up just a little.  What you do not want to do is purée those bad boys with an immersion blender until they’re liquified - if you do, you’ll never be able to separate the tasty liqueur from the fruit solids.  I learned this the hard way when I discovered that it was completely impossible to filter the jellylike glop I had created.

Back to the drawing board.

Happily, the next attempt was eminently successful.  The results are pictured above, and I will tell you that that stuff is every bit as tasty as it looks.

I do not drink Cosmopolitans, but I’d be willing to bet that you could make a really good one by using this liqueur in lieu of the typical bottled cranberry juice.  Even the Boggy-Man would agree!

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