The inspiration for this recipe was a home made Vanilla Extract recipe that I saw on Pinterest. When I realised how easy that was to make at home it got me thinking, and this is what we came up with. We started making our extract at the end of August, so that we could give our concoction time to develop it's flavours, and ensure that it would work - and it does! This is our own original recipe, our aim was to produce an extract that has all the aromas and flavours of Christmas concentrated into it - add a teaspoon to cakes when baking, mince pies, cocktails, desserts or anything else you can think of.
Not everyone is aware that pine needles are edible, and are in fact high in vitamin C, as well as having other benefits. When foraging please ensure you are 100% sure of what you are picking, and bear in mind that some evergreens such as yew are highly toxic. I also recommend that you provide an ingredient list with any home-made items that you give away as gifts, so the recipient can make an informed choice to whether or not it is suitable for them.
This is what we used and did....
50g Dried Cranberries
Zest of half an Orange
1 Cinnamon Stick
3 pieces Mace
6 Allspice Berries
Handful of Pine Needles
Bruise the spices and pine needles in a pestle and mortar, and add to a jar with the molasses, cranberries, orange zest and brandy. Pop on the lid, and give it a good shake.
Leave in a dark place to infuse for at least 4 weeks, giving it the odd shake when you think about it. We tasted it every so often to check how it was developing, and although we didn't feel a need to adjust it, you could easily do so.
Once you are happy with the taste of your extract, strain through muslin and bottle. The flavour of your extract will continue to mature and mellow over time.
Our extract is dark and syrupy, and smells like Christmas trees and mince pies, which is exactly what we hoped for. It is very concentrated, and we plan to use it in exactly the same way you would any other extract. When we made it we also made a liqueur version, with exactly the same ingredients but with the added addition of Vodka - here is the recipe for our Christmas Spirit.