Our early ancestors had it tough; tracking, hunting and trapping animals, many of which were much bigger, stronger and toothier than ourselves. They could see us, hear us and smell us coming; were more agile, had sharp bits, and in return, wanted to eat us too. This practice, every so often, took it’s tole upon the tribe. Larger critters would sometimes object to being tonight’s dinner and could the tables on the would-be hunters like a fat kid with a Lazy-Susan at a Chinese buffet! Sometimes it was easier to go after slower, more sedentary, even stationary quarry.
It was the time of the foragers and gathers who carefully dug for roots, selected legumes, and picked plants, fruits, vegetables, berries and fungi. Now being a gather was not completely without its hazards; there was competition from other tribes for resources, scary territorial herbivores, and plants and fungi that, although look tasty, must first be tested on the village idiot. After all, he’ll eat anything!
Many of these fruits and berries were only around once a season and our Pleistocene ancestors had no way of preserving them. We, on the other hand, have the benefit of agriculture, importation, freezing and canning and can have them all year round. And what better way of enjoying your favourite fruits and berries than sipping them over crushed ice or mixed in a cocktail.
So I propose a toast to our Neolithic lineages with a luxurious dram of The Culinary Barbarian’s Cherry Blueberry Liqueur. Skol! Cheers! Salute!
2 cups of cherries (fresh or frozen), stems removed
½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
700ml vodka, moonshine, white whisky or white brandy
1 cup sugar
1 star anise
5 juniper berries
Juice of ½ lemon
- Prick the berries with a fork and (if fresh) place in a zip lock bag and freeze overnight. Freezing ruptures the cell walls of the fruit which speeds up the maceration time. If frozen, simply thaw, prick with a fork and dump into an airtight 1 litre jar. Top with vodka, add juniper and star anise and seal. Sit on the window sill in a warm place.
- After 24 hours, scoop of the star anise and juniper. Any longer and the flavour of the anise will overpower. Reseal and give the jar a shake 2-3 times a day for 4-5 days.
- After 4-5 days, strain off the flavoured vodka and reserve. Return the berries back into the jar and pour over the sugar and lemon juice. Seal and shake twice a day for 2-3 days.
- You will notice that a syrup has formed. Pour off this this syrup and blend into the vodka until your desired sweetness is reached.
- Don’t waste the berries; they’re great over ice-cream or pancakes.