Blackberry Cordial

I know that people really can’t “roll in the grave”, which is what, if it were humanly possible, my teetotaling Great Grandmother Adelaide would have been doing last night while I was bottling up and capping said spirits in the kitchen long after everyone else had begun to slumber.  Maybe the fact that I waited to do this late at night, in quiet solitude means somewhere back in my ancestry, there might have been some moon shiners doing the same thing in the backwoods of northern Alabama.  But wait, Great Grandmother was a teetotaler.

When I was a kid, and for a long time afterward, I thought teetotaling was spelled “teatotaling” and referred to tea-drinking folks.  I mean, my Great Grandmother, Grandmother, and my parents did love their sweet iced tea.  So much so, that it was our supper-time beverage my entire growing up years.  Lil Sis and I didn’t figure out until we were adults and learned about the caffeine content in tea that the reason we had so much trouble falling asleep at night was because of that supper-time glass of sugar-laced iced tea.  But you have to admit–there is nothing quite as refreshing as a glass of it on a hot, humid south Louisiana afternoon.  But we’re talking about cordials, not tea.

You can look back and see the super-productive blackberry patch not very far from Camp Dularge where we picked buckets of berries.  And you can read how Lil Sis and I made jam, preserves, dumplings, cobbler, and put 8 quarts in the freezer.  But with such a bumper crop, what else could we do with these black beauties?  I know!  Blackberry Cordial!

As I started looking at recipes online for Blackberry Cordials, my mind wandered back to a time when Dotter was an impressionable girl, and we consumed together the “Anne of Green Gables” video set.  More specifically, I was recalling the scene where Anne and her bosom buddy, Diana Barry, are playing grownups and allowed to enjoy some of Marilla’s Raspberry Cordial while she is away.  You might remember this, too:

 

And then there was the popular TV series, “The Waltons”, featuring the Baldwin Sisters and their “Secret Recipe”, which will always remain a secret, I do believe.  Whether it was shine, wine, or cordial, we may never know.

So, with all those wanderings, I decided to try two different variations of Blackberry Cordial.  The first was made from crushed whole berries, water, sugar and alcohol steeped in a large glass jar in a dark place for about six weeks, strained and bottled.

Somehow, I just happened to have the prettiest light green bottles with these cute old-fashioned clip stoppers, just waiting to serve the purpose of displaying this beautiful, dark ruby red liquid.  After straining through a very fine filter, you can still see a little of the sediments suspended in the cordial.

The recipe said a pretty, clear liquid was most desirable for the beauty, so if I don’t upset the sediments in the bottom, the liquid really is a beautiful color.

After straining the 3/4 full gallon jar, the yield was about two quarts of the pretty cordial, enough to fill these four decorator bottles and six pint jelly jars.  After that, there was just enough left to fill a tiny glass, which I imbibed while making the labels later last night.  It was sweet, with only a very slight hint of the alcohol.  Actually, it tasted like a delightful dessert drink, and I hope whomever is graced with a gift of this will enjoy the effort put into making it!

The second recipe might be more like a wine, but I’m not sure.  This one is much more cost effective, because all the recipe required was berry juice, sugar, and water and its own fermentation processes to become a cordial.  The process was much more labor intensive, though, with having to crush the berries and squeeze out all the juice, and then filter into bottles to sit for about two months in a cool, dark place.

The balloons on top of the bottles indicate that fermentation is taking place, the gasses inflating the balloons.  When the balloons go limp, the fermentation process is over.  The liquid is then filtered into decorative bottles, placed on their sides in a dark place for a couple more months.  This should be interesting, and I’ll be sure and let you know what this batch tastes like!

Before I finish this out, you need to know one more way I use these blackberries–a cure for diarrhea.  Take about 1/4 cup of berries and 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil in small pot.  Cover and let steep for about an hour, then strain the juice.  Dose is about 1 tablespoon for small child or 2 tablespoons for teen and adult at onset of ailment.  Continue every 2-4 hours as needed.  The blackberry decoction is a natural treatment with no negative side effects, which we have used for many years.

I’d like to think that my ancestors wouldn’t mind my finding yet one more purpose for the generous gift of berries Nature provided us this past spring.  I’d like to think they would consider me industrious and enterprising.  Once again, The Bible speaks most plainly to me on the topic–that we should do all things in moderation.  With that in mind, I wish that Adelaide and I could have sat on the porch swing, spring irises and wisteria blooming all around us, and sipped a little spot of cordial, leaving the iced tea for a hot summer afternoon.

Cheers,

BW

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Comments

Blackberry Cordial — 18 Comments

  1. They both sound absolutely delicious! My sister has a friend who is always wondering what to do with the over abundance of his patch and this sounds like a great idea! Maybe they’ll give me some if I help make it!

    • I find doing things like this very rewarding. I guess where our ancestors did these things out of necessity, we have the luxury of enjoying these hobby-like endeavors!

  2. Who will be your guinnea pig, uh, I mean wine tasters? I think you should open up a bottle when the whole family is there to enjoy it with you. Will you serve it chilled or room temp? Where in La. does one find a “cool, dry place” to store something? I’ve often wondered how our ancestors stored things. We don’t have root cellars like they do up north. (BTW, I’m talking WAY north of Bossier. LOL!)

    I think Shine was the “secret recipe” of the Baldwin Sisiters. I’m pretty sure I remember an episode where John and Grandpa worked on the still for the sisters. Later, John Boy had to drive them home because they had a little too much of the recipe as payment.

    I came across a strange shaped copper funnel while helping my dad and great aunt clean out my great uncles workshop after his death. When I asked about it they started laughing, then told me it was part of a still my great grandfather had during prohibition. I now have that funnel in my workshop! I also brought home a glass water cooler bottle my great uncle used to make his wine in. He had it plugged with a “Speck cork”. I’ll bet if I pulled that cork (like I did 15 yrs ago) the fumes would still knock my socks off today.

    • Great stories, Steffi! Glad that funnel is preserved with you! One of those five-gallon Kentwood water type bottles? Plugged with a “popping cork”? Now that’s something I could picture, lol!

  3. Sounds like you have been very industrious in the waste not want not line of what to do with the berries! I would never have thought of that. My son might have since he has started making their own wine for home use. I think the last batch was pomegranate.
    I like your choice of bottles too. I have a box filled with empty liquor bottles that my mom collected. There are several cut glass and etched glass decanters in the set that are just gathering dust on a top shelf. I may have to pull them out and see if they can be used.

    Let us know how it tastes after it has set awhile.

  4. Let me know when you’ll be needing blu’s super terrific reverse flow counter chiller for beer making and maybe distilling. I love good blackberry brandy too bad it is so rare now.

  5. Where did you find your recipe #1? I thought I read it here…but now that I am looking again, I am unable to find it. Also wondering if you need to have to keep the lid loose during the 6 weeks.

    • I combined a couple of recipes, but here it is: 8 Cups of fresh berries, 3 cups sugar, 2 cups vodka (the smoother the vodka the smoother the cordial). Place berries in a gallon glass jar (do not use metal). Pour in sugar and vodka and stir well. (You can crush the berries if you like, but this one did not call for it). Add filtered water until mix fills jar about 3/4 full. Stir gently a few times until the sugar dissolves. Cover (I screwed the cap on tight) and stand in cool, dark place for six weeks. I put it in my closet. After six weeks, strain with kitchen strainer first, then cheese cloth, and then a very fine coffee filter. If not available strain through jelly bag or cheese cloth again. Finally, filter through coffee filter paper. This will take almost a whole day, but will go faster if you do the previous methods first. Pour final product in bottles. Store in cool place (not frig). Good luck!

  6. Oh, doesn’t that sound good! I grew up with wine makers – dandelion, rhubarb are two I remember. And after Ike, there was a winery over on Oak Island that had bottles strewn all over the place. People went out and helped them pull them out of ditches, etc., and then sold the wine to get a little money for the folks. They bottle all native fruits – pear, mustang grape, cherry, and so on. Gosh, the wine was good, even after laying around after that hurricane!

    Mom used to make her own kahlua – she loved that with coffee, or iced with cream.

    As for your home remedy – a funny story. A good friend’s father was a country doctor in Arkansas. He’d always have ladies coming to him with this and that complaint. Often, he’d tell them he was going to give them a prescription for a “tonic” – one ounce, every night. Then, he’d called the pharmacy and tell them to fix Mrs. so-and-so a bottle of tonic. They’d get out the big bottle of Mogen David, fill up the tonic bottle and send the patient on her way. Invariably, she ended up feeling better. 😉

    • Oh, I love the Mogen David story! Imagine what kind of lawsuits would fly today if such a simple remedy were passed off as medical treatment? Sad the things we’ve come to as a society. But hey, pass the MD 20/20 and we’ll get over it really quick!

  7. My blackberries are just turning ripe and I know what Kassi and I will be doing with them this year! In fact,I will be linking this to her on FB as soon as I am done!

    You know how we say we must be long lost family— I was going through an old box of my Grandmothers family letters, photos, and such and her family is from the Lake Charles area. She still has cousins there and I remember her going to visit them now that I have taken the time to look at their photos. I knew I had it in my blood!!! 🙂

    • Wow, well, I guess you do have some South Louisiana in your blood after all! I am so happy to hear that! Let me know if you need help with the cordial! Gonna miss you June 22-24th!

  8. Well, I’m late to the party but the cordial is DELICIOUS! I shared tiny (very tiny) bit with Dan and Britt on Tuesday and they both loved it. I’m so proud of how creative and delightful you are. 🙂

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