crabapple hooch

My neighborhood isn’t tight in the way some are. No block parties and outside of the casual, “hi, how’s it going,” folks tend to stick to their own business. That said, there are a few neighbors we’ve connected with and built relationships with. And it is to them that I dedicate this post.

treesTwo years ago, I was invited by neighbors across the street to help myself to the beautiful and rosy red crabapples hanging from their tree.

Never one to turn down free food, I filled a large bucket and considered my options. This being so long ago, I don’t remember exactly why I thought “liqueur,” but I did and after a quick google search, I had my recipe.

apples picked

apples picked

quartered and cored

quartered and cored

My husband and I settled in to watch a movie that night and I started in on the crabapple prep. Had I known that coring these tiny little apples would take upwards of six hours, I would have started much earlier.

mixed with sugar and vodka

mixed with sugar and vodka

Eventually, though, I was ready to mix the quartered crabapples with vodka and sugar. And when I climbed into bed at 2 a.m., I was comforted in knowing that my crabapple vodka would be ready for unveiling in 16 short days.

a bit cloudy at first--sugar crystals will dissolve in a few weeks and the resulting liqueur will be ruby red and crystal clear

a bit cloudy at first

16 days later

16 days later

high-tech filtration system

high-tech filtration system

isn't it lovely?

isn’t it lovely?

They didn’t disappoint. What a lovely batch of liqueur: brilliant red, sweet but tart, almost syrupy. I treasured my supply and whittled it down ever so slowly.

For botanical reasons of which I know not, this crabapple tree bears fruit every other year. Last year, then, offered no harvest. But this year I hit the jackpot and was invited again by our neighbors to pick.

This go-round, I’m tackling the project in smaller segments–no more all-nighters for me–and am once again comforted and thrilled to have crabapple hooch “brewing” to sip, savor, and share.

on the tree

on the tree

Many thanks to neighbors who are willing to share their harvest. I also raise a glass of this lovely spirit to Jessica, a neighbor and friend who is relatively new to the street and, sadly, soon to leave. We’ve shared a few toasts over the years, and I thank you for your friendship. You will be missed!

cheers to Jessica :-)

cheers to Jessica ­čÖé