Have you ever heard that expression “to warm the cockles of the heart”? I don’t know where I first ran across it, but I suspect it was in Little Women, one of my favorite books as a child and still a favorite. I have something to warm the cockles of your heart this winter (whatever cockles are or wherever they are—this stuff is sure to warm them), and it’s not hard to make: raspberry cordial.
Some time ago, I posted an old recipe for blackberry cordial, which is a wonderful, mildly-alcoholic beverage appropriate for an aperitif or dessert drink. Just this past week, during a two-day berry-processing fest, I decided to try the recipe with raspberries. And I am here to tell you that it was a complete success. I’m so excited to share this and two other recipes with you. Following the cordial recipe, I have a recipe for raspberry jam using the pulp left over from juicing, and a recipe for raspberry-infused vinegar, should you have more leftover pulp than you need for jam.
Now, a caveat. This cordial recipe makes three 750 ml. bottles of cordial, with some left over in another bottle. (If you choose to drink the leftovers rather than bottle it, who am I to judge you?) It is entirely possible and as easy as . . . well, pie . . . to cut this recipe down, should you not happen to have access to enough raspberries to make 9 cups of juice. Simply divide the recipe by 3, and you only need 3 cups of juice, about 3/4 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of vodka. Simple. And lest you worry that you need fresh raspberries to make this luscious drink, let me reassure you. I made it using my frozen berries. In fact, frozen berries render more juice than fresh berries do.
What I cannot tell you is the volume or amount of frozen berries you’ll need if you are buying them frozen from the store. I used about 2 gallons of my frozen berries to make 9 cups of juice. I used the leftover pulp to make jam, and oh boy, was it good! So don’t throw that pulp away. I have two more recipes to help you use every last bit of those raspberries. I’m guessing that you’ll need about 3 or 4 large packages of frozen berries to get 9 cups of juice. Look at the volume listed on the packages, if you’re buying frozen raspberries, and try approximate at least two gallons of berries.
There are other recipes out there for similar drinks. Most of them require a long infusion time and several steps to come up with a drink that is safe for consumption. Because this recipe calls for pasteurization of the juice, it is safe to drink immediately, and the flavor is exceptional. I hope you enjoy this, as well as the blackberry cordial.
9 cups raspberry juice (cook berries for 5 minutes, then strain through cheesecloth-lined colander to remove seeds)
2 ½ cups sugar
1 cup vodka
Bring raspberry juice and sugar to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes. Add vodka and mix. Cool to room temperature and bottle in clean bottles with tight-fitting lids. (Old, clean liquor bottles work well.) Stores indefinitely.
To each cup of raspberry pulp and seeds left from straining the juice, add 1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice. (Please notice that this is substantially less sugar than is required for a recipe that uses commercial boxed or bottled pectin.) To 3 – 6 cups of this mixture, add one cup of apple pectin stock. Cook on medium high heat until pulp is glossy and thick, about 20 min. (Taste frequently to test for the level of sweetness that you want, and add sugar as needed.) Test for doneness by placing a dab on a plate that has been in the freezer until well-chilled. Replace plate in freezer for a minute, then check to see if jam is firm. If so, spoon into sterilized jars, seal, and process in water bath for 5 minutes.
If you have more raspberry pulp than you want to convert to jam, or less than you need for a good batch of jam, try an infused vinegar. This is so easy, it’s ridiculous. Just fill a pint or quart jar 3/4 full of raspberry pulp and top off with white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or your own homemade apple scrap vinegar. If you use homemade vinegar, store your infusion in the fridge; if you use store-bought, you can leave the infusion in a cool, dark place. Because there is no way to test the acidity of your homemade vinegar, it’s best to be safe and keep it refrigerated. Let it sit several weeks, then strain through several layers of cheesecloth and bottle. Voila! Raspberry vinegar (or blackberry vinegar, should you make the blackberry cordial). I did both, during my recent berry-processing marathon. Raspberry infusion on the left, blackberry on the right.
May the cockles of your heart be warmed this winter with berries.
All original text, photographs, and the cordial recipe are copyrighted and may not be copied or reproduced without the author’s permission.