I have a weird obsession with making liqueurs. They’re old fashioned, but that’s something I love about them. Just like a champagne cocktail, they are unexpected and delightful. My three-year-old particularly likes scouring op shops with me for pretty little liqueur glasses, and ceremonially choosing one for each of our guests. (She gets juice in hers, which is always the ponciest one, a miniature green martini shape on a tall crystal stem).
Because they’re not particularly cool, there aren’t a huge number of good books in English on liqueur making (unless you want to make Skittle vodka, in which case good luck to you). But the Italians and Poles, in particular, are super into them. This recipe for quince liqueur is adapted a bit from ‘Wielksa Ksiega Nalewek‘, one of a number of large Polish liqueur books.* Like my limoncello recipe, it uses a double infusion in hygroscopic liquids, one in alcohol and one in sugar. The time involved, though, is a bit longer due to the lower surface area and permeability of the quince.
I have omitted the addition of a small amount of high proof spirit from this recipe. It isn’t necessary and isn’t available in Australia in any case. Some similar recipes add cinnamon, cloves, lemon zest or all three. That sounds delicious, but I’m keeping mine simple this time around.
- 1 kg quinces, peeled, cored, finely diced
- 1 litre vodka (40%)
- 1/2 kg sugar
Put the quince pieces and the vodka in a jar at least 1 1/2 litres large. You’ll want to submerge the pieces quickly as you work, and weigh them down with a pickle weight or a clean plastic bag filled with water: they are very tannic and therefore turn brown super fast. Leave in a dark place for six weeks.
After the six weeks are up, strain the vodka off into a bottle but keep the fruit; add them back to the jar with the sugar, and shake well every day until the sugar dissolves. At this point strain off the sugar liquid. Remove and discard the fruit, add the sugar liquid and the vodka back into the jar together, and let sit for around another three weeks. A sediment will form; siphon or carefully pour your liqueur off into new bottles.
*Recipes are just about the easiest thing to put through Google Translate: the sentences tend to be short, and the format usually isn’t wildly different to English recipe books, so if you are prepared to make some educated guesses, you’re in with a chance. In this recipe, I only had to make two: Google Translate asked me to add
cucumbers sugar, and put the quinces in a gas stove demijohn before adding the vodka. That last one almost caught me out!