In one of my old recipe books there is a section on drinks – brewing and making them as well as combining them in cocktails and other mixes. One of the drinks which is mentioned is ratafià… well, I’ve heard of it, and I think I assumed I knew what it was… I think I thought it was had an almond flavour; however when I came to investigate further it seems that it’s made not from almonds but from cherry stones or peach stones – and if you’ve ever cracked one and eaten the kernel you’ll know they do taste almondy. However, I think they are quite dangerous, because the almondy flavouring comes from a chemical which can produce cyanide (I think I have this right, chemistry was not my strong subject at school, in fact I gave it up when I was fourteen – and we weren’t ever taught about cyanide in fruit pips and stones) Apparently you would have to eat several hundred cherry pits before they harmed you… I remember now that I came across ratafià when I inherited some cake flavourings, and it was among them, but I don’t think I ever used it.
So ratafià the drink… in Molise and Abruzzo in Italy, ratafià is made from a mixture of fresh cherries and Montepulciano Di Abruzzo wine; as I like both cherries and the wine, this sounds like a perfect and delicious combination! There is another ratafià (which makes it a little confusing) which is a home-made drink using fruit or vegetables (sounds strange – I wonder which ones?) herbs, wine, and vodka oh and sugar. Everything is mixed together and refrigerated to mature for a month or so before being strained into a clean container. I think I would like to try some that someone else had made before having a go myself!
If I did decide to make some, I think I might follow Ambrose Heath’s recipe:
Apricot or Peach Ratafia
- 25 ripe apricots or peaches
- ½ lb white sugar
- 8 cloves
- a piece of cinnamon stick
- 2 pints brandy
- prepare the fruit – cut into pieces, crack stones and extract kernel, blanch and grind
- put fruit, ground kernels and all other ingredients into a jar with a tight lid
- leave for 3 weeks, shaking the jar regularly
- strain and pour into clean bottles
It is a lot of brandy… maybe I would try with half measures!
I have no pictures of peaches, apricots or cherries, so my featured image is a cherry tree!