Make mulled wine kits & flavoured alcoholPosted on: 04 November 2009 by Mark O'haire
Embrace the spirit of Christmas with hand-crafted gourmet gifts.
Escape the modern-day commercial Christmas and enjoy a simpler, more home-spun way of celebrating with these two recipes for giving.
Mulled Wine Kit
Red wine that has been heated, or mulled, and flavoured is a well-loved Christmas drink, and a mulled wine kit is the perfect present for someone who enjoys its warming, spicy undertones. When you tie the spice sachet to the bottle, add a gift label with instructions for making the mulled wine and what other ingredients to add. One kit should be enough for about six glasses.
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- Fresh nutmeg
- 12 cloves
- 1 square muslin cloth, about 18 1 18cm / 7 x 7 in
- 1 pinch ground ginger
- A length of twine
- 1 bottle red wine
Prepare the spices: break the cinnamon stick into three pieces, crush the cardamom pods lightly, and grate a little fresh nutmeg.
Place the cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloces in the centre of the muslin square. Measure out the ginger and add it to the spices.
Gather the four corners of the muslin into the centre and hold them with the fingertips of one hand. Gather up the four remaining corners.
Wrap the piece of twine around the top of the sachet and secure it tightly. Then tie the loose ends of the twine around the neck of the bottle.
Mulled Wine Instructions
Put the wine, sachet, 150ml / 1/4 pint of water, adn 6 tablespoons granualted or demerara sugar into a pan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, but don't allow the wine to come to the boil. Good ingredients to add: a splash of brandy, gin, Cointreau, or port, the juice of 1 orange, and 1 orange and 1 lemon, each sliced and cut into segments.
Make Flavoured Alcohol
If you gather blackberries or sloes from hedgerows in autumn, or if you have a bountiful harvest of tart damsons or raspberries, turn some of the crop into fruity flavoured alcoholic drinks. Use gin or vodka with the highest proof content to get teh best preserving results. These wonderfully warming drinks take three and a half months to mature, and then continue to improve in flavour.
Alcohol is a preservative - nothing can grow in pure alcohol - and when fruits are soaked in it, the alcohol absrobs their flavour to give a fruity taste and colour. Use ripe produce for the best quality and flavour and freeze the fruits until needed. Frozen fruit provides excellent results: the freezing process ruptures the fruit skins and allows the juices to flow out.
To Make Raspberry Gin
These quantities make 1 litre / 1 3/4 pints.
- 1 bottle of gin - 700ml / 1 1/4 pints
- 400g / 14oz raspberries, fresh or frozen
- 250g / 9oz caster sugar
- A few cloves - optional
- 1 stick of cinnamon - optional
- A few drops of almond essence - optional
- 1 large, wide-necked jar, sterilized, or 2 empty gin bottles
Pour the gin, fruit, sugar, spices, and almond essence into the sterilised jar, or divide the ingredients equally between two bottles using a funnel - there's no need to sterilise a vodka or gin bottle if the alcohol has just been poured out of it. Seal and store in a cool, dark place. Give the jar or bottles a shake daily for the first two weeks and then weekly for a further three months. During this time the sugar dissolves and the liquor takes on a luscious red colour. Take a sip every now and then and add more sugar if needed.
After three and a half months, or when the taste is to your liking, strain the ingredients, and re-bottle the liquid only. Use a muslin bag to strain the alcohol and fruits. Suspend the muslin with two bamboo sticks and collect the alcohol in a bowl.
To make sloe gin, replace the raspberries with sloes and prick each sloe berry with a skewer before adding it to the gin. To make blackberry or damson vodka, replace the gin with vodka and the raspberries with blackberries or damsons.
Sheherazade Goldsmith and a team of crafters give further ideas for a more creative and sustainable Christmas in The Christmas Book, published by DK, priced £16.99, available at all good bookshops or online from Amazon for £11.04.
If you know a great Christmas craft project that you want to share or are looking for help from fellow crafters, visit the 50connect forum.
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