I have been concocting some potions which for the most part I will not be tasting—lie! I did taste with the tip of my tongue the blackcurrant potion and it is
magic delicious indeed—for a while as they are meant to age I think for months, but I am confident I will not be sorry.
The first is a recipe from Michel Bras (from Petits Festins et Desserts) for Ratafia de feuilles de noyer—walnut leaf Ratafia (a word of créole origin, apparently meaning “to your health” and “let the deal be made”)—which I totally bastardized, my walnut tree is so small I could not steal that many leaves and when I added the corresponding reduced amount of alcohol, I felt the leaves were not bathed enough. So in about 12 months (am I really going to be that patient?) I will know if I it was an acceptable reduction, all I can say is, the colour is good and I hear walnut is beneficial for digestive complaints. I feel I made some kind of mother tincture, very medicinal indeed. There is also a recipe for a maceration of celery or lovage leaves or blackcurrant buds, I will try those definitely in the future.
WALNUT LEAF RATAFIA
500g walnut leaves
1l of 40˚alcohol (eau de vie)
3l wine (I used white wine made from organic grapes)
1 kg of sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
Let the leaves sit in the alcohol for 15 days, then add the wine and leave for another 3 days. Filter and dissolve the sugar (I just stirred it in), filter again through paper filter, bottle and forget about it.
I used wild and cultivated raspberries and some tayberries and organic cider vinegar left it sitting for two weeks and filtered it. Some people add sugar but I didn’t. The colour is wonderful, keep it in the dark if you want to keep in wonderful. My mother used to add a spoonful of this in her fruit salad. I kept the raspberries and aim to mix them into my minced meat for christmas mince pies (I did that a few years ago with the blackberries I had used for blackberry vinegar, it was a tart and delicious addition).
a bottle of excellent white wine (bottled on the estate)
250g of sugar
60-75ml of 40˚alcohol (eau de vie)
Press the blackcurrants into a pulp (I found my hand was the best tool for this), put into a large jar and add the wine, close and leave for 8 days. Filter without forgetting to extract the liquid from the pulp (I used a chinois which you can see here the second picture is captioned “chinois cap”). Add the sugar and warm on the stove while stirring, as soon as the surface turns a little white, stop. Add the alcohol. Bottle, cork nicely and let it age as long as you will.
I am not a great consumer of alcohol, but I do like the idea of capturing the essence of now and tasting it later. As I write I have quite a bunch of French tarragon sitting in vinegar, very industrious in the liquid department I am.