Raspberry Cordial~A Good Reason To Plant Berries

Imagine you are sitting in front of a cozy fire, warm and snuggled in with the cold of winter howling at the door.  In your hand is a tiny crystal glass filled with ruby red liquid, sweet and thick.  You lift it to your lips, close your eyes and are transported to a soft summer day, picking berries from a fully ripened patch that no one else has yet discovered.  That, dear reader, is what Raspberry Cordial tastes like. Really.

When my daughters were little they loved watching Anne of Green Gables.  We still laugh about the guilty Anne Shirley offering raspberry cordial to her best friend, who became “drunk” on it.  I wanted a piece of that action and went on a little discovery of how to make it.  There are as many recipes out there as types of raspberry bushes, but I wanted to go for  one that would be simple and require old fashioned labor to create. This one includes vodka so that it can be sipped or poured over vanilla icecream, but there are recipes that are alcohol free.   I started it on our anniversary, September 21, because that was when  there was a “glut” in the raspberry crop along with reason to celebrate a long happy marriage.  Everyone should experience that kind of generosity of nature at least once in a life time.  I mean the raspberries of course…. if you’re fortunate enough to have a happy marriage that’s a generosity of nature to be enjoyed as well.

This is so simple.  The harder part is getting your hands on a quart of fresh raspberries..although I suppose frozen could be used.

Raspberry Cordial

1 pound fresh red raspberries

3 cups vodka (a mid- price range)

1 1/2 cups sugar

Find a large glass or ceramic jar that will hold all of the ingredients.  Place raspberries in jar, cover with sugar, then pour vodka over the top.  Gently mix together with a spoon, cover it and set it on the counter where you won’t forget it.  Every day stir it and return cover.  Do this for a month or even two.  Strain the berries from the liquid and put the beautiful red cordial in a pretty bottle.  It will keep like any other liquor. But more about the berries:

In this part of the country it’s time to prepare the soil to plant raspberries.  Past experiences with raspberries, for me, amounted to watching my father dig manure into the sides of  raspberry rows in late winter, followed by thinning out the thorny brambles, then trying to beat the birds to the berries on a sweltering summer day, completely covered against the thorns and potentially unhappy bees.  But the ruby red juicy berries were worth the risk.  There are some things helpful to know about raspberries to succeed.  Wild brambles can interfere with your berry bush production, so you want to give them some distance. This is particularly true of blackberries.  Planting in early spring is better than in the fall. A spring feeding of manure is important and once established raspberries will be difficult to ruin. And if you have a sunny corner of the house in the suburbs or the terrace of an apartment you can grow a few of these plants. But the most valuable thing I learned is that there are berries out there that will produce amazing berries and are thorn free.  Are you smiling?   I’m about to give away the farm here, but Joan J Primocane Raspberry bushes start producing in mid June and continues all the way into late October or a hard frost.

Raspberries and roses are close relatives.  Isn’t that cool?  The next time you smell a rose think about raspberries.  They are members of the Rosa family.

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