Edible gifts are lovely, and drinkable gift even more so! There are quite a lot of jams and chutneys around this time of the year, and not enough liqueurs (in NZ, in Italy home-made liqueurs are traditional), so making homemade liqueurs gives me a point of difference! One of the first challenges for me, living here, is that you cannot buy the alcohol to make your own liqueurs, so I have to use grappa (sometimes vodka, but grappa is better). Fortunately I have a lot of grappa :-)
I am not getting much out of my garden yet a part from silver beet, leeks and herbs, but I do have flowers! And being an organic garden my roses are not sprayed, so they can be used for cooking.
I made jam in the past, and syrup, and cakes... for the liqueurs it is actually better to use the rose fruit, but it is not season for those.
So I picked some petals, very carefully. I would have picked more but the bees and bumble bees started flying around me, obviously upset by this big competitor who was taking away their meal!
I had 200 g of petals
I put the petals in a sterilized jar, and melted 200 g of sugar in 400 ml of water.
I poured the hot syrup over the roses and stored the jar away for two days, in a dark cupboard.
Actually, the best way would be to put the petals straight into the alcohol for a month, but I am rushing here, this is a Christmas present, I wanted and instant liqueur!
After two days the syrup had a beautiful pink colour, and the smell was amazing!!!
Strain the petals through a fine cloth, and hung it to drip, like for a jelly. And as for a jelly do not squeeze the bag, or the syrup may get cloudy. Let it drip overnight. When I make jelly I hung the dripping bag with a broom handle over two chairs, but here the quantity was so small...
I improvised and hanged it over my kitchen mixer (btw, this is a very new purchase, and it changed my life!!!) Collect all the juice. I had 400 ml. You can squeeze the remaining petals over another cup, and make a sweet cup of rose tea, yum!
Now to my distillery! I decided to do a 50% alcohol, using a 40° grappa. So I got 800 ml of liqueur, which I put in pretty bottles.
One is a present for my friend Sue, who loves these kinds of things. Also, when she visited me in Italy last summer she tried a rose liqueur and loved it. A good gift for her, I think!
The rest? Well, I had to gift it, but also to try it out, so I took it to the Italian school. I have one class, and I was covering two classes for two teachers who went to Italy. The students were all willing to try
:-), liked it, and seemed to be all still alive and well! And they want the recipe, so here it is!
Sorry Luca and Martina, you missed out, but Sandra had yours :-). And sorry about the pics below, they were taken with my iphone and it was quite dark. Students: siete tutti bellissimi!